Public Health England and the Stroke Association are urging black people of African and Caribbean origin to Act FAST if they spot signs of stroke with the aim of saving lives and improving outcomes for survivors.
A stroke is a brain attack, which happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, caused by a clot or bleeding in the brain.
A person loses 2 million nerve cells every minute that they do not receive medical treatment during a stroke and if left untreated, a stroke could result in permanent disability or death:
- 110,000 strokes each year make it the fourth largest cause of death in England
- Stroke is the largest cause of disability in the UK, with 85% of people requiring physiotherapy after a stroke.
The latest campaign was launched to coincide with World Stroke Day and urged the public to call 999 if they notice any of the stroke symptoms in others or experience them themselves:
Facial weakness - has their face fallen on one side?
Arm weakness - can the person raise both arms and keep them there?
Speech problems - can the person speak clearly and is their speech slurred?
Time to call 999.
Additional symptoms of stroke and mini stroke include:
- Sudden loss of vision or blurred vision in one or both eyes
- Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body
- Sudden memory loss or confusion
- Sudden dizziness, unsteadiness or a sudden fall, especially with any of the other symptoms.
Nerve cells are the core components of the brain, spinal cord and central nervous system and the more that are lost, the greater the chance of slurred speech, paralysis and permanent disability. The Act FAST campaign urges people to dial 999 if they spot signs of a stroke so that the person having a stroke can get to hospital within the vital three-hour window. This results in a greater chance of recovery as well as reduced likelihood of permanent disability and lesser need for extensive rehabilitation.
Research from the Stroke Association illustrates the devastating impact of stroke, which causes a greater range of disabilities than any other condition in the UK. Over half of all survivors have a disability and more than a third are left dependent on others for everyday activities. When it comes to rehabilitation, 85% of stroke survivors require physiotherapy, 80% need occupational therapy, and 47% need speech and language therapy. The faster patients receive immediate medical treatment, the better the recovery.
Since the Act FAST campaign launched in 2009, an additional 41,382 have got to hospital within the vital three-hour window, meaning that those affected by stroke receive the immediate medical treatment required.
Actress Diane Parish and campaign supporter, said: “Thanks to the Stroke Association, I have had an amazing insight into the impact that a stroke can have on the survivor and their family. Black people are twice as likely to have a stroke compared to white people, therefore it’s vital that we all know the signs of stroke, so that we can think and Act FAST.
“On World Stroke Day let’s ensure that our friends and family know and understand the FAST message. You could save someone’s life.”
Dr Ann Hoskins, Director of Children, Young People and Families with Public Health England, said: “Every minute really does count when it comes to stroke and delaying treatment can have serious consequences. We are urging everyone to stay alert to the signs of stroke and to seek immediate medical attention if they notice any of the symptoms in others. The faster a stroke is treated, the better the chances of a good recovery.”
Dr Ann Hoskins
Dr Ann Hoskins
Jon Barrick, Chief Executive at the Stroke Association said: “Acting FAST can help reduce the devastating impact a stroke can have. We know that sadly, far too many people dismiss the early warning signs of stroke and delay calling 999. It’s easy to ignore these signs as a ‘funny turn’, but stroke is a medical emergency and getting the right treatment fast can save lives and reduce the devastation that stroke can bring.
“You are more likely to survive a stroke, and make a better recovery, if your symptoms are spotted and you get treated in a stroke unit as quickly as possible. We need to Act FAST because time lost is brain lost.”
(currently starring in Omeros at The Globe Theatre) and campaign supporter, said: “At 67, I feel blessed to have good health and still be doing what I love. The statistics are startling and make you realise that when you notice stroke symptoms, every minute really does count. As a community, we need to make sure we understand the FAST message.
“Let's not hesitate to call 999 if you suspect you or someone close to you is having a stroke. It's good to know that acting FAST can lead to a much better chance of recovery."
There are around 152,000 strokes in the UK every year and it is the leading cause of severe adult disability. There are over 1.2 million people in the UK living with the effects of stroke.