23 04 21 | Health & Wellbeing

Stockport NHS stroke leaders say act F.A.S.T. at the signs of stroke

Stockport NHS stroke leaders say act F.A.S.T.  at the signs of stroke

"The most common signs of stroke are changes to the face, arms and speech - acting fast and getting treatment will help save lives and prevent people from severe disability."

Stockport NHS stroke leaders are joining a national call to urge people to act FAST at the first signs of stroke. 

Data from the lockdown period of the COVID-19 pandemic last year show that admissions to hospital for stroke fell, both locally and nationally. Nationally, there was a 12% fall of admissions of a stroke within four hours. Locally, this was a 4% fall, meaning over 40 people receiving treatment less quickly than they should.

Timely treatment for stroke is vital, and anyone experiencing symptoms should seek urgent help. Stroke is a time sensitive condition, and early treatment not only saves lives but results in a greater chance of a better recovery.

Around 1.9 million nerve cells in the brain are lost every minute that a stroke is left untreated which can result in slurred speech and paralysis. If left untreated, a stroke can result in permanent disability or death.

Think and act F.A.S.T., the signs of stroke are: 

  • Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms – can they raise both their arms and keep them there?
  • Speech – is their speech slurred?
  • Time – time to call 999

Dr Srinath Meadipudi, Clinical Director for Stroke Medicine at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, said

“Stroke is a medical emergency and one of the leading causes of death in England. Unfortunately, as with other serious conditions, the effect of the pandemic has meant some people have been more hesitant than they would be previously in seeking emergency help. This hesitation can be deadly. It is so important for people to know how to spot the signs of stroke and if they have any concerns about any early signs whatsoever to call an ambulance immediately – don’t wait until a second, even more serious stroke hits. The most common signs of stroke are changes to the face, arms and speech – acting fast and getting treatment will help save lives and prevent people from severe disability. Our stroke centre at Stepping Hill Hospital is open and safe, and if you suffer a stroke will want to see you as soon as possible – please don’t hesitate just call 999.”

Stockport’s stroke unit based at Stepping Hill Hospital treats over 1200 inpatient strokes in an average year. It is one of only three specialist units in Greater Manchester, and also treats patients from Eastern Cheshire, Trafford, Tameside and North Derbyshire.  For the last several years it has been shown as one of the best performing stroke units in the country, according to successive annual independent Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme (SSNAP) reports.

Juliet Bouverie, Chief Executive of the Stroke Association, said

“Every five minutes, someone in the UK will have a stroke. Stroke kills tens of thousands and leaves others with complex and severe disability every year. Acting FAST is the biggest thing you can do to save a life. As soon as you see any of the signs of stroke in yourself or someone else, you need to call 999.Last year we saw thousands of people with suspected stroke put off calling 999 due to fear of catching COVID-19 or being a burden on the NHS. People could now be living with more severe disability than they otherwise would because they put off calling 999. That’s why you need to know that acting FAST and calling 999 saves lives.”

There are around 100,000 strokes a year in the UK – at least one stroke every five minutes sadly causing about 34,000 deaths per year. Stroke is the fourth single leading cause of death in the UK and the single largest cause of complex disability.

For information on stroke go to https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stroke

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