Stroke campaign takes FAST-track to success

Stroke campaign takes FAST-track to success

3 March 2015, 3:21PM
Stroke Foundation of New Zealand

Image caption:  Stroke Foundation of New Zealand, St John and Waikato DHB representatives promote the FAST message with Hamilton MP David Bennett.

Improved public awareness around the signs of stroke will now FAST-track more stroke survivors to hospital care, increasing their chances of survival and recovery.

Last year a six-week stroke awareness campaign funded by the Ministry of Health was piloted in the Waikato.  Research has shown that the campaigns advertising, which encouraged people to ‘think FAST’, doubled the number of Waikato residents who could identify the main signs of stroke. 

FAST is an easy way to remember the three main signs – Face drooping – Arm weakness – Speech difficulty and Time, reinforces the need to act FAST by calling 111 if a stroke is suspected. 

Stroke Foundation CEO, Mark Vivian said broader awareness of the signs of stroke through the FAST campaign could save New Zealand millions of dollars in healthcare-related costs, not to mention spare thousands of New Zealanders the pain and heartache that can arise when they or someone they love is seriously disabled for the rest of their lives.

“One of the biggest challenges to improving survival and recovery after stroke is helping people to get faster diagnosis,” said Mr Vivian

“The Ministry of Health has made a significant investment into stroke services in hospitals, but this has to be supported by stronger public awareness of the signs of stroke and the need to call 111 immediately.”

Each year about 9,000 New Zealanders have a stroke, and for many who survive, recovery can be a lifelong process.

For Laurian Gill and her husband Graeme, the FAST message could have helped Mrs Gill recognise that Mr Gill was having a stroke, and prevented severe and permanent damage.
“I ask everyone to acquaint themselves with the FAST message,” said Mrs Gill. 

“It is vital to recognise when someone is having a stroke and to start treatment as soon as possible, because the sooner the medical treatment begins, the more likely brain damage can be reduced and a better outcome achieved.”

Mr Vivian said the Stroke Foundation hopes that after the successful pilot in the Waikato, further support from the Ministry of Health will extend the campaign nationally.

For more information on stroke visit

  • The FAST message has been proven to identify 90% of strokes
  • The 30-second TVC can be viewed at, along with the posters, leaflets, fridge magnets and wallet cards.
  • The online aspect of the campaign surpassed industry standards with click through rates from Facebook adverts nearly 5,500% higher than an average campaign.
  • Traffic to increased well beyond normal during the campaign and Google analytics showed most of this traffic came from the Waikato area.

Stroke facts

  • Stroke is the third largest killer in New Zealand after heart disease and cancer
  • Each year around 9,000 people have a stroke – over 2,500 die from stroke
  • About 15% of all stroke survivors are institutionalised; disabilities from stroke make it one of the highest consumers of hospital beds, services and community support in New Zealand
  • There are an estimated 60,000 stroke survivors in New Zealand
  • Up to half of all stroke cases could be treated with clot-busting drugs (thrombolysis or tPa) if they arrive within three hours of the stroke’s onset at a hospital.
  • Lifetime costs per stroke patient in New Zealand were estimated in 2009 at $73,600 per person, with a total cost to the country of over $450 million annually.