Stroke Foundation chief executive Sharon McGowan said stroke can happen anywhere and at any time, even at Christmas.
"It doesn't matter if it interrupts a party or Christmas dinner, always dial triple zero (000) if you suspect a stroke. It could save a life," she said.
"I know many families are having long-awaited reunions after being separated by border closures or other travel restrictions during 2020, so it seems even more important to act fast at the first signs of stroke."
Ms McGowan is urging the community to learn and share the F.A.S.T signs of stroke this Christmas:
- Face - Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
- Arms - Can they lift both arms?
- Speech - Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
- Time - Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call triple zero (000) straight away.
Ms McGowan said a recent survey found just 16 percent of Australians could recognise two or more signs of stroke unprompted. When a stroke occurs, up to 1.9 million brain cells can die every minute, but treatment can stop this damage.
"The more people who know what to do when a stroke occurs, the better," she said.
"Lives would be saved and disability from stroke would be reduced.
"The worst thing people can do is ignore the signs or try to 'sleep them off'."
Ms McGowan encouraged residents to regularly check in on relatives and friends who may be alone over the festive season.
"Pop in for a quick visit, make a call or set up a video conference if you can. Ensure they know the F.A.S.T. message and to call triple zero (000) in an emergency," she said.