Don’t ignore the signs of stroke and act F.A.S.T.

Health leaders in Sefton and West Lancashire are reminding local residents that the NHS is still here to help and they should not to delay in seeking help if they show signs of having a stroke, as ‘Acting FAST’ helps save lives.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month so it’s a perfect time for everyone to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of a stroke and how to spot the warning signs in yourself or someone else.

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 the symptoms of stroke to seek medical help immediately because the sooner they do, the less damage is likely to be done.

Dr Nigel Taylor, lead for stroke at NHS South Sefton and NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said: “In the UK there are around 100,000 stroke related incidents every year, that’s one every five minutes. People may not realise that a stroke can affect any age group, and around two-thirds of patients leaving hospital will have some type of disability to contend with.”

Nigel added: “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 Peter Gregory, West Lancashire GP and chair at NHS West Lancashire CCG, said: “During the COVID-19 pandemic it is really important to remember that if you need medical help, the NHS is still here for you.

“In West Lancashire there are more than 150 people a year affected by stroke and we want to remind everyone that if you or a loved one is showing symptoms of a stroke, then do not hesitate to call 999 immediately.

“The earlier that a stroke is detected, the more treatable it is and the greater the chance of survival”.

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.

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.

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.