Act FAST: Recognise the symptoms of a stroke

14-03-2014

Stroke is a ‘brain attack’ caused by a disturbance to the blood supply to the brain. Stroke is the third biggest cause of death in the UK, accounting for 10% of deaths (more than 45,000) each year, and the largest single cause of severe disability.

Being seen early after the onset is crucial to the effectiveness of stroke treatments. This applies to those with either ischaemic or haemorrhagic stroke of any severity and for people of any age.

NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is supporting the Act F.A.S.T campaign, which has been developed by the Department of Health, to highlight the symptoms of stroke and the importance of emergency treatment.

F.A.S.T., which stands for Face-Arm-Speech-Time, is a simple test to help people recognise the signs of stroke and understand the importance of emergency treatment. The campaign encourages people to call 999 as soon as possible.

Facial weakness: Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
Arm weakness: Can the person raise both arms?
Speech problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
If you see any one of these three signs, it’s
TIME to call 999. Stroke is always a medical emergency.

Dr Dan Roper, Chair of NHS Hull CCG Board, said: “Calling an ambulance means that patients can be seen by medical professionals sooner. With a stroke, time lost is brain lost, so the quicker a patient arrives at a specialist unit, the quicker they will receive appropriate treatment and the better their chances are of surviving and reducing long-term disability. If you suspect a stroke, always dial 999.”

Dr Rayessa, Consultant Physician in Stroke of Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, says: “Stroke is the leading cause of adult onset disability in the UK. The more common form of stroke is caused by a blocked blood vessel in the brain, which in turn results in a lack of oxygen to the brain tissue. Almost 1.9 million nerve cells can be irreversibly damaged every minute that the stroke is left untreated leaving a devastating impact on the brain and long term disability of the patient.

“The FAST test should be used if there is a suspicion of stroke, looking for signs such as; face dropping to one side, slurring of speech and seeing if the patient can keep both arms raised, if any of these signs are present, please call 999 ( not your GP) immediately.

“The quicker the patient reaches hospital the more effective the treatment will be. Treatment usually consists of a clot-busting drug allowing significantly improved outcomes and reducing the chances of long-term disability for the individual.”

Recent results show an exceptionally high awareness of the campaign and a significant improvement in the public’s ability to spots signs of stroke. It is hoped that the Act F.A.S.T campaign will continue to help increase awareness about the signs of stroke so that people can help family, friends and others should a stroke occur.

Background information:

• The Act F.A.S.T. campaign was first launched in February 2009 and includes strong imagery to highlight the visible signs of stroke.
• The Act F.A.S.T. campaign runs from Sunday 9th March until Monday 31st March 2014. Television adverts will be shown during this period to demonstrate to the public the visible signs of a stroke and to urge them to call 999 as soon as possible if they see someone showing these signs.
• The NHS Choices web site has a simple online exercise enabling people to test their knowledge of Act F.A.S.T. Go to http://www.nhs.uk/actfast/pages/stroke.aspx 
• NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is led by a membership of 57 local GP practices. The CCG has a budget of around £362m to commission hospital, community and mental health services to meet the needs of the people of Hull.
• Our vision is to Create a Healthier Hull, and in order to achieve this we work in close collaboration with our partners to improve health, reduce health inequality and secure excellent services for all the communities in Hull.

ENDS

For further information contact the NHS North Yorkshire and Humber Communications Team on 0300 303 8394

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