Act FAST with signs of stroke

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May is National Stroke Awareness Month, so it is the perfect time to familiarise yourself with the symptoms of stroke. If you or anyone is showing signs of a stroke, act FAST and call 999.

The NHS is here for you and NHS staff have worked hard to ensure anyone who needs stroke care can safely get it despite the biggest public health emergency in over a century. Services across the country have been restructured to reduce the risk of patients being exposed to or passing on infection in hospital.

Stroke is a serious, life-threatening medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. It is essential for anyone who is experiencing symptoms of stroke to seek medical help because the sooner they do, the less damage is likely to be done. Do not be put off seeking help because of coronavirus.

Dr Salma Reehana, local GP and Clinical Chair at Wolverhampton CCG, said: “While everyone is being told to stay at home, it can be hard to know what to do if you’re unwell. It's still important to get medical help if you need it. If you think you or a family member are suffering with the symptoms of a stroke, you must dial 999 immediately. The quicker a stroke is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.”

Dr Reehana added: “You can significantly reduce your risk of having a stroke through an active, healthy lifestyle, such as eating well, taking regular exercise, drinking alcohol in moderation and not smoking.”

The latest statistics show that visits to A&E in April dropped by almost 60 per cent in the
Midlands, so the NHS is urging people who may be having a stroke to come forward for care as soon as possible.

A Dudley Stroke Association spokesperson said: “Stroke is still a medical emergency and it’s vital people do not ignore the symptoms of stroke. If you or someone you are with show signs of having a stroke, do not delay in seeking medical help. Remember: act FAST – Face, Arms, Speech – it’s time to call 999.”

You can spot the symptoms of a stroke by using the FAST test:
• Face - is the face drooping / fallen on one side? Can they smile?
• Arms - can they raise both arms and keep them there?
• Speech - is it slurred?
• Time to call 999 if you see any of the above signs.

Other stroke symptoms include loss of vision or blurred vision in one or both eyes, sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, memory loss or confusion, and dizziness, unsteadiness or a sudden fall.

During the coronavirus pandemic, it is important to go out for a daily walk or bike ride if you can. Even if you’re self-isolating or shielding, there are lots of ways to exercise in your own home.

For a range of easy-to-follow, gym-free workouts that can be done anywhere, at any time, visit: www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/gym-free-workouts/

For more information about the symptoms of stroke, and to find out what support is available, visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/stroke