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​Know the signs of stroke - acting FAST can save lives

GPs in Southwark are supporting a campaign to tackle the country's third-biggest killer – with a message that acting FAST could save the life of a loved one.

A stroke is a serious life-threatening medical condition – caused by a clot or bleeding – that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. 

However, prompt treatment makes a significant difference to someone's recovery and rehabilitation, and having an NHS Health Check can identify those at risk.

Strokes are a medical emergency and urgent treatment is essential. The sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.

Calling 999 as soon as you see even one of the symptoms develop – in the face, arms and speech – is essential. 

F.A.S.T. is a quick and effective way of remembering what to do if you suspect that someone is having a stroke.

Act FAST. Call 999.

F – Facial weakness. Can the person smile?

A –Arm weakness. Can the person raise both arms?

S – Speech problems. Can the person speak clearly?

T – Time to call 999 if they have any of these signs.

The first three hours following the first signs of a stroke are crucial so acting FAST and getting help is a priority.

Other more specific symptoms include:

  • Dropping eyes, mouth, arms, legs
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Weakness, numbness or paralysis
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dizziness
  • Sudden severe headaches

In the UK, a stroke happens every five minutes and can often be fatal. The condition destroys lives and is the third biggest killer in the country.

Stroke is often associated with older people, but the latest research shows that people are having strokes at a younger age. Everyone needs to be aware of the signs.

Despite better prevention, and earlier and more advanced treatment leading to a decline in the number of stroke-related deaths in the past 15 years, there are still around 32,000 a year in England, meaning urgent treatment remains crucial to outcomes.

Throughout May, Stroke Association is encouraging people to wear purple to raise money to support stroke survivors and fund research into the condition.