A mum from Carlisle is urging everyone to understand and take seriously the signs of a stroke. Even if you aren’t sure ‘think stroke and act FAST’
Angela Johnston, 45, was recently recovering from a chest infection when she had what turned out to be a mini stroke. Even though she knew the signs of a stroke she didn’t really think she was having one.
Angela said: “I’d been unwell one weekend with a chest infection but I felt well enough to return to work. I didn’t feel right when I woke up – not ill, but just not right. I asked my daughter to drive me to work.
“On the way to work I asked her if I was speaking funny but she said no and I even remember saying ‘I hope I’m not having a stroke’ while brushing it off as nothing. I had checked myself for typical stroke symptoms but I didn’t have any apart from slurred speech, which I thought was just my own perception.
“I am lucky enough to work in a GP surgery where a colleague of mine noticed that something wasn’t right and alerted the doctor, who phoned an ambulance. I was seen that day by the brilliant staff at NCIC and it turns out I’d suffered from a mini stroke.
“If I hadn’t been in work that day, I don’t know how long I would’ve ignored the signs. I would urge everybody to know what to look out for and get help if you experience any of the symptoms.”
The Stroke Association has recently launched their act FAST campaign to reduce the amount of time between someone having a stroke and arriving at hospital.
Dr Paul Davies, a leading Consultant Stroke Physician at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust is backing the campaign to help people spot the signs of a stroke.
There are around 100,000 strokes in England, Scotland and Wales every year, with around 33,000 stroke related deaths each year, as well as being a leading cause of disability.
The F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) acronym provides a memorable way of identifying the most common signs of a stroke and emphasises the importance of acting quickly by calling 999.
- Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
- Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.
- Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.
- Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.
Dr Davies has offered some advice on how you can prevent having a stroke.
He said: “We can all do lots of things to prevent having a stroke. There are a number of factors that can bring down your stroke risk. Diet, exercise, and stopping smoking are controllable risk-factors that we can all improve and can reduce the risk of having a stroke. In addition, having good control of blood pressure with the help of your GP can also bring the stroke risk down.”
A stroke is known as a ‘brain attack’. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention as every minute is vital. That is why calling 999 is so crucial. Early recognition of symptoms can give stroke patients those extra precious minutes, enabling faster access to specialist treatment. Whether it is a friend, loved one or even a stranger, dialling 999 quickly and acting F.A.S.T saves lives and gives stroke patients their best chance to access emergency procedures and to have recovery which could reduce the long-term effects such as a disability.
You can watch a video of Dr Davies here: https://youtu.be/dNZ8KtgWuXc