North East urged to ACT FAST

Posted on Fri, 03/02/2017

1 in 4 people would fail to call 999 when witnessing first signs of a stroke.

•While the majority of people (93%) would call 999 if they saw a stroke, a quarter (24%) of people incorrectly think that they need to see two or more signs of a stroke before making the call 

•59,048 people on GP registers in the North East have had a stroke, and there were 1,794 deaths caused by stroke, in the area in 2015

•New Act FAST campaign films feature stroke survivor radio DJ Mark Goodier and TV presenter Anna Richardson, encouraging local residents to call 999 as soon as they notice any one of the three key signs: Face, Arms, Speech

Public Health England today launches its annual Act FAST campaign in the North East to remind people of the key symptoms of stroke and the importance of calling 999 immediately if they notice any single one of the symptoms themselves or in others. 

Research for PHE shows that 24% of people would wait to call an ambulance because they wrongly believe that they need to see two or more symptoms of stroke before making the call. Other barriers to dialling 999 include feeling that they need permission to act on behalf of others. 

As part of the campaign, new films being released will encourage everyone in the North East – whether they are a stranger in the street, a family member at home or the person themselves – not to hesitate and to make the call immediately when they see any one of the key stroke symptoms:

•Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?

•Arms – can they raise both their arms and keep them there?

•Speech – is their speech slurred? 

Michael, 22, from Darlington, survived a stroke in February 2016. A keen rugby player, Michael had always been fit and well. He had just played rugby when he experienced weakness in his left side, slurred speech and blurred vision while at home. Luckily, he recognised the signs of a stroke and his sister Caroline called an ambulance straight away.

Michael said: “It was a very scary time for both of us. As I waited for help to arrive I remember trying again and again to move my left arm. I struggle to explain just how helpless I felt.”

After being rushed to the stroke ward at the University Hospital of North Durham, Michael had a CT and MRI scan, which showed he had had a stroke. 

Michael added: “Before I had a stroke, I just didn't think it happened to people my age. However, growing up in a family of doctors, I was very fortunate to recognise the FAST symptoms, diagnose myself quickly and call for an ambulance. I want to help more people be aware of how important time is in terms of receiving medical care.”

Michael’s story shows how disability can be greatly reduced if people react quickly to any of the signs of a stroke and he urges people in the North East to act fast and call 999.

Over 59,000 people on GP registers in the area have had a stroke. In 2015 there were 1,794 deaths caused by stroke in the area. Nationally, there are over 100,000 strokes a year in the UK,  causing over 40,000 deaths, with two thirds of stroke survivors leaving hospital with a disability 

Dr Anand Dixit, Consultant stroke physician for Newcastle Hospitals trust said:

“Stroke is a serious medical emergency. It is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the UK and can affect people of all ages.

“Stroke is very treatable but every single minute counts.  Making the call to 999 immediately – when you see any single one of the signs – can make a marked difference to someone’s recovery and rehabilitation.” 

Graham McClelland, Research Paramedic at North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) said:

 “The earlier you receive treatment, the better your chances are of a good outcome. Stroke is just as time critical as a heart attack or major trauma and requires the same urgent response. 

“We are involved in a number of stroke trials and research into acute treatment of stroke, including my work looking at stroke mimics, with a view to improving the outcome for stroke patients in our region but everything comes back to dialing 999 as soon as someone has any of the FAST symptoms.”

 Professor Peter Kelly, Centre Director for PHE in the North East said: 

“We all need to know the sign of a stroke, but it’s important too that we act straight away if we see any single one of them. 

“We might be inclined to hesitate because we’re not sure or we’re embarrassed or worried about appearing to interfere, particularly if it’s someone we don’t know. But we shouldn’t let this get in the way. The consequences of not acting are far more serious when someone is having a stroke, so act first and worry later.”


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