June 05, 2017 at 9:00 AM


Stroke is the 3rd largest killer in New Zealand killing around 2500 people every year. Around one person every hour in New Zealand suffers from a stroke a quarter of which occur in people under 65 years of age.


A stroke, or brain attack, occurs when the blood supply to a portion of the brain is suddenly interrupted. This most commonly occurs when a blood clot gets caught in a blood vessel.

A stroke can also occur when a weak spot in the wall of a blood vessel, known as an aneurysm, bursts open and bleeds into the surrounding brain tissue. In both cases, brain cells die.


Signs of a stroke can vary. They tend to show up suddenly. Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body, may be present. A person may appear confused. A change in the ability to speak or understand can occur. Sight and balance can be affected. A severe, sudden headache may be described.


A simple stroke assessment such as FAST, helps decrease the time it takes to suspect a stroke, ring 111 and get the person treated in hospital.

Face - ask the person to smile.

Arms - ask the person to raise both arms. Look to see if one drifts back down.

Speech - ask the person to speak a simple sentence. Listen for slurring of difficulty.

Time - Ring 111 immediately if the person has any difficulty with any of these tasks. 

A stroke is a true medical emergency. Ring 111 immediately if a stroke is suspected. Rapid treatment in a hospital is critical in limiting the damage that can occur.

A person experiencing a stroke can become frustrated at being unable to move or communicate clearly. The person may appear confused but still be aware of what is happening. Calm, comfort, and reassure the person until another provider or EMS personnel takes over. Do not give anything to eat or drink.

If the person’s level of responsiveness is or becomes severely diminished, consider placing the person in a recovery position to protect the airway.

Whenever a stroke is suspected, be prepared for the possibility of sudden cardiac arrest and the need for CPR and the use of an AED.

Be prepared for a medical emergency by taking a CPR, AED, and first aid class today. Click the link below to organise a MEDIC First Aid course near you.

Contact Us


Blog sources


Stroke foundation of New Zealand 




Tags: Stroke awareness
Category: First Aid