Taking four simple actions can make all the difference to people struck down by Scotland’s third biggest killer– stroke.
Stroke is also the greatest single cause of severe disability in adults in Scotland. And this week, beginning Monday November 3, a campaign has been launched to make relatives, friends and work colleagues more aware of the signs of stroke by remembering the acronym FAST.
F stands for FACE. Can the person smile normally? Does their mouth droop?
A is for ARM. Can they lift both arms normally?
S is for SPEECH. Can they speak clearly? and
T is for Time, as in time to dial 999 if any of these signs are present.
There are 12,500 new strokes a year in Scotland, and of these more than 1 in 5 happen to someone under 65.
The campaign is being run jointly by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland (CHSS), Scotland’s leading stroke charity.
Dr Christine McAlpine, Lead Clinician, NHSGGC Stroke Managed Clinical Network, said: “Stroke is caused by an interruption of the blood flow to the brain, by either a blood clot (thrombosis) or burst blood vessel (haemorrhage). As a result, brain cells are deprived of the oxygen and other nutrients, which they need. Some brain cells become damaged and others die. No two strokes are the same, and the symptoms depend on the area of the brain affected and the extent of the damage incurred.
“If the patient is to make a full recovery it is important that they receive medical treatment as quickly as possible to prevent further damage to the brain.
“Delay can result in long-term disabilities such as paralysis, severe memory loss and communication problems.”
Age and general health has a bearing on whether someone has a stroke, but risks can be minimised by paying attention to risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, exercise, diet and alcohol intake.
Camilla Young, Stroke Managed Clinical Network Co-ordinator, added: “Recent improvements in stroke treatment have reduced the levels of disability suffered by many people.
“Greater Glasgow and Clyde in particular has some of the best stroke units in the UK, and with the Ambulance Service having trained all of their staff to use FAST, people are getting the treatment they need quicker than ever.”
David Clark, Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Chief Executive said: “A stroke often happens out of the blue and without warning. Time is critical if you suspect someone is having a stroke.
“CHSS are delighted that NHS Glasgow and Clyde are taking forward the FAST Campaign which highlights the importance of getting medical help quickly.”
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For information about Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland visit www.chss.org.uk