People urged to act 'F.A.S.T.' to spot the signs of stroke

NHS Scarborough and Ryedale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is urging local residents to familiarise themselves with the signs of stroke to help ensure sufferers have the best chance of survival.

The plea follows a recent analysis which showed that only around four percent of patients being taken to Scarborough hospital with a suspected stroke were admitted in time for clot busting drugs to be effective.

Dr Peter Billingsley, local GP and lead for stroke at the CCG, said: “Time is critical when it comes to someone having a stroke. The quicker they can be taken to hospital, the better the outcome of the treatment is likely to be for them.

“The latest figures show that only a small percentage of people having a stroke in the Scarborough area are arriving at hospital within the four and half hours we have to give them thrombolysis. This is a clot busting drug that not only radically improves their chance of survival, but also reduces the long term debilitating damage caused by stroke.”

Local resident and taxi driver, David, knew that time was of the essence when he was rushed into Scarborough Hospital following a stroke on the job: “I put my car into gear on the cab rank and tried to drive off, but it wouldn’t move and kept revving. I realised as I looked down that I had lost control of my left arm and couldn’t move my left leg. I shouted to a fellow cabbie but my voice sounded slurred like I was drunk.

“That’s when I remembered the symptoms from talking to family and friends who had suffered from strokes.

“One of the lads on the rank dialled 999 and I was at Scarborough Hospital receiving help from the stroke unit within 14 minutes of the call. The staff were unbelievable and the drug they gave me acted immediately.

“My friend’s mother died from a stroke as she didn’t get the help she needed quickly enough. When I realised what was happening to me, I knew that I needed to be in a hospital, and fast.”

The NHS campaign, known as ‘Act F.A.S.T.’, promotes four simple steps people can take to identify whether someone may have had a stroke:

FACE: Has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?

ARMS: Can they raise both their arms and keep them there?

SPEECH: Is there speech slurred?

TIME: Call 999 as quickly as possible if you see any single one of these signs

Dr Billingsley added: “Stroke is the third leading cause of death in England each year and kills more women than breast cancer. Being seen early after the onset is crucial to effective treatment. We are advising everyone to remember these simple steps to identifying a stroke so you can act F.A.S.T.”

Read more about types of stroke here.

Read NHS England guidance on reducing your risk of a stroke here.

Help to spread the Act F.A.S.T. message by ordering materials to use in your workplace or organisation here.

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