Public Health England (PHE) and the Stroke Association are urging the public to Act FAST if they spot signs of stroke with the aim of saving lives and improving outcomes for survivors.
A person loses 2 million nerve cells every minute that they do not receive medical treatment during a stroke. Nerve cells are the core components of the brain, spinal cord and central nervous system and the more that are lost, the greater the chance of slurred speech, paralysis and permanent disability.
If left untreated, a stroke could result in permanent disability or death.
The latest Act FAST campaign will again urge the public to call 999 if they notice any of the stroke symptoms in others or experience them themselves. The Act FAST campaign message is:
- 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?
- Time – time to call 999
Recognising the signs of stroke and acting quickly so that the person can get to hospital within the vital 3 hour window results in a greater chance of recovery as well as reduced likelihood of permanent disability and lesser need for extensive rehabilitation.
Since the Act FAST campaign launched in 2009, an additional 41,382 people have got to hospital within the vital 3 hour window, meaning that those affected by stroke receive the immediate medical treatment required. Figures released by PHE earlier this year also show that since the campaign launch, over 4,000 fewer people became disabled as a result of a stroke in the period.
To illustrate how every minute counts during a stroke and to encourage people to Act FAST, PHE and Stroke Association have today released a thought provoking animated film. The animation depicts the possible outcome of 2 scenarios for a stroke survivor – one where they receive the immediate medical attention required and another where calling for an ambulance is delayed (based on a real life story).
Research from the Stroke Association illustrates the devastating impact of stroke, which is the largest cause of complex disability (a number of different forms of disability, all caused by stroke) in England. Over half of all survivors have a disability and more than half are left dependent on others for everyday activities. When it comes to rehabilitation, 85% of stroke survivors require physiotherapy, 80% need occupational therapy, and 47% need speech and language therapy. The faster patients receive immediate medical treatment, the better the recovery.
Dr Ann Hoskins, Director of Children, Young People and Families with PHE, said:
Every minute really does count when it comes to stroke and delaying treatment can have serious consequences.
We are urging everyone to stay alert to the signs of stroke and to seek immediate medical attention if they notice any of the symptoms in others. The faster a stroke is treated, the better the chances of a good recovery.
Jon Barrick, Chief Executive at the Stroke Association said:
Acting FAST can help reduce the devastating impact a stroke can have. We know that sadly, far too many people dismiss the early warning signs of stroke and delay calling 999. It’s easy to ignore these signs as a ‘funny turn’, but stroke is a medical emergency and getting the right treatment fast can save lives and reduce the devastation that stroke can bring.
You are more likely to survive a stroke, and make a better recovery, if your symptoms are spotted and you get treated in a stroke unit as quickly as possible. We need to Act FAST because time lost is brain lost.
Star of stage and screen, Miriam Margolyes, whose mother had a stroke, said:
When mummy had a stroke in the late 60s, there was so little known and much less awareness of stroke than there is today. It was the worst time of my life.
A stroke happens out of the blue and knowing how to recognise the symptoms is so important. If you know what you’re looking for, you can get your loved ones the help they need immediately. We must remember to think and Act FAST, you could save the life of someone you love. Face, Arms, Speech – Time to call an ambulance.”