With worrying figures showing that the number of people going to hospital with a stroke fell during the lockdown, the government is relaunching a campaign to raise awareness.
A stroke is a serious life-threatening event that happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Data from the lockdown period of the Covid-19 pandemic last year show that admissions to hospital for stroke fell. This is a concern because stroke is very time-sensitive. Any hesitancy and delay in getting treatment kills brain cells. Early treatment not only saves lives but results in a greater chance of a better recovery, as well as a likely reduction in permanent disability from stroke.
The NHS stress that stroke is a medical emergency and anyone experiencing symptoms should seek urgent help.
Public Health England (PHE), supported by the Stroke Association, is relaunching the Act FAST campaign reminding people of the symptoms of stroke and why urgently calling 999 is vital in saving lives. Look out for the ads.
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?
The T in FAST stands for Time – if you have any of these symptoms, it is time to call 999.
Other signs of a stroke (or a mini-stroke called a TIA) include:
- sudden loss of vision or blurred vision in one or both eyes
- sudden weakness or numbness on one side of your body (including in your leg)
- sudden memory loss or confusion
- sudden dizziness, unsteadiness or a sudden fall, especially with any of the other signs
There are around 100,000 strokes a year in the UK causing about 34,000 deaths per year. In 2020, men accounted for 52% of stroke admissions.
Juliet Bouverie of the Stroke Association, said:
Every 5 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.