Column: Around 400 suffer a stroke every year
Every year around 400 Doncaster people suffer a stroke, which can often be fatal or cause life changing disabilities.
A stroke is a brain attack. It happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off.
Strokes occur because, as we age, our arteries become harder and narrower and more likely to become blocked and stop the blood supply. Certain medical conditions and lifestyle factors – like high blood pressure and smoking - can speed up this process and increase your risk of having a stroke.
All strokes are different. For some people the effects may be relatively minor and not last long. Others may be left with more serious problems that make them dependent on other people.
That’s why it’s important to be able to recognise the symptoms and get medical help as quickly as possible. The quicker you receive treatment, the better your chances of a good recovery.
On Wednesday this week, (1 February, 2018) the national Act FAST stroke campaign will be re-launched with the support of the Stroke Association. It aims to raise awareness of the symptoms of stroke and encourage people who recognise any one of the symptoms - in themselves or others - to call 999.
The campaign will particularly target South Asian, Black African and African - Caribbean communities, where the risks of stoke are more common.
The FAST (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) acronym is a simple test to help people remember the most common signs of a stroke and features on the poster I’m holding:
Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there?
Speech – is their speech slurred?
Time - to call 999 if you see any one of these signs
There are other symptoms that you should be aware of as these may occasionally be due to stroke, including sudden:
- loss of vision or blurred vision in one or both eyes
- weakness or numbness on one side of the body
- memory loss or confusion
- dizziness, unsteadiness or a sudden fall, especially with any of the other symptoms
The primary audience for the campaign is people aged 50 and over, as this age group are more likely to experience a stroke, closely followed by those aged 35-55 who may act as stroke savers if they witness anyone experiencing a stroke, and stroke survivors who want to support the cause.
Stroke is a medical emergency. You must call 999 immediately. We’re fortunate in that Doncaster Royal Infirmary is recognised as a specialist centre that offers clot busting treatment and cares for people in the critical 48 hours immediately after having had a stroke.
So please remember, if you see any of the symptoms: Act FAST. Make the call. Dial 999.