Stroke - act FAST
Every year around 740 people in the East and North Hertfordshire CCG area have a stroke.
A stroke is a serious, life-threatening medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. The common symptoms of stroke and what to do about them can be remembered with the word FAST: Face, Arms, Speech, Time:
Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have dropped
Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift one or both arms and keep them there because of arm weakness or numbness
Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake
Time – it is time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
Strokes are a medical emergency and urgent treatment in hospital is essential. The sooner a person receives the right treatment for a stroke, the less brain damage is likely to happen.
When someone has a TIA (transient ischaemic attack, also known as a mini-stroke) – they experience the same symptoms, but those symptoms wear off within 24 hours. This can mean that people don’t take a TIA seriously, but they should. Around 10% of patients go on to have a full stroke within a week of having a TIA. Act quickly – don’t ignore the warning signs.
Dr Fiona Sinclair, East and North Hertfordshire CCG's lead GP for stroke care said: “A stroke is an emergency which needs urgent medical attention. Even if you feel as though you are getting better, don’t write off temporary stroke-like symptoms as a funny turn – call 999 straight away. The faster you get specialist help, the better your chances of recovering and avoiding a further, more damaging stroke which could affect you for the rest of your life. Every second counts.
“Most people think of strokes as only affecting old people, but a stroke can affect anyone. Being a smoker, drinking excessively or eating an unhealthy diet, being physically inactive or overweight can all increase your risk of having a stroke, so try to lead a healthier lifestyle to reduce your chances of suffering one. Look on the OneYou website to see how you could get started.
"Some strokes present with other symptoms such as a sudden onset of loss of vision or loss of hearing, or leg weakness or numbness. If you or someone you know suddenly develops these symptoms get immediate advice by calling 111."
Remember – if you think someone you know might be having a stroke, dial 999 and tell them that you suspect a stroke.
The ambulance control centre will make the nearest specialist stroke centre aware that you are coming, so that they can be prepared to treat you straight away. Paramedics will treat you on your journey. Strokes are often treated with clot-busting drugs which dissolve the blockage which was restricting the blood supply to the brain. Time lost is brain lost, so the faster a patient is seen, the better the outcomes for that person.
Information, advice and support service from the Stroke Association
If you or someone you care about has had a stroke, the Stroke Association can provide practical advice, essential information and emotional support. The Association offers a range of services in Hertfordshire:
- Hospital and home visits
- Signposting to support groups
- Support in returning to work
- Information about local leisure and social activities
- Support and information for carers
- Information leaflets and factsheets in a range of languages
- Referral to other organisations that also offer help
Contact the Stroke Assocation in East and North Herts:
Phone: 01438 845 941