Would you know how to spot the signs and what to do, if someone you’re with is experiencing a stroke? A stroke is a medical emergency and every minute is vital. If you know what to look for, it could save someone’s life.
There are around 100,000 strokes in England, Scotland and Wales every year, and around 33,000 stroke related deaths.
New research shows that more than 1 in 4 (26%) Black people wouldn’t be confident in recognising the signs of a stroke. And fewer than 2 in 3 (63%) said that they would dial 999 as a first step if they noticed one of the key signs. It is vital that we become more aware of what to spot and what to do – not only for ourselves, but for the people around us who we love and care for. Those extra precious minutes gained from acting quickly can increase the chances of recovery following a stroke.
You may have heard of the F.A.S.T. campaign, which is a memorable way to spot the signs of a stroke and take immediate action. The campaign has already helped to save many lives, so it is being relaunched by NHS England and the Stroke Association to make sure that even more people know what to do:
- Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
- Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there?
- Speech – is their speech slurred?
- Time – even if you’re not sure, call 999.
You should call 999 if you notice even one of these signs.
Professor Ade Adebajo needed a year of intensive rehab before he was able to return to work at Barnsley Hospital, where he had a stroke in 2015. “Because of the F.A.S.T. campaign I was able to work out what was happening to me and inform a colleague before I slumped into unconsciousness – it helped to save my life. It’s so important that we’re all aware of the signs of stroke and know how to act quickly. Those few minutes can make such a difference.”
Other medical issues that are common in the Black community can also increase the likelihood of having a stroke.
Gloria Ekeng, Stroke Nurse Consultant and founder of Stroke Care International said: “High blood pressure, diabetes and sickle cell are significant risk factors for stroke, so it’s all the more important for Black people to watch out for the symptoms – in themselves and in the people around them. The more vigilant we are, the more lives we can ultimately save.”
Professor Adebajo’s story is just one example of how recognising the signs of a stroke can be life-saving, but there are countless more that show how important it is to understand what is happening and do something quickly.
Professor Adebajo said: “Being able to act quickly in response to a stroke could save the life of someone you know. If you find yourself or anyone else showing any of the symptoms – in face, arms or speech – please get help straight away by calling 999, even if you’re not sure. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Remember, if you notice any single one of the signs of a stroke, call 999 immediately. By getting someone faster access to emergency treatment you can give them the best chance of survival and recovery, and be a Stroke Saver for our community.
Visit www.nhs.uk/ActFAST for more information.