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Act FAST 2017   Stroke men and women
Think Stroke? Act F.A.S.T to minimise long term damage
02 February 2017

Acting F.A.S.T. as soon as stroke symptoms present themselves can not only save lives but potentially limit long-term effects.

The Act F.A.S.T. campaign relaunches on 2 February giving people an important reminder of the need to act quickly and call 999 at any sign of a stroke. The F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) acronym is a simple test to help people identify the most common signs of a stroke and what to look out for in themselves and in others: 

  • 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 to call 999

Jeannine Johnson, Lead Clinician at Isle of Wight NHS Trust for Stroke Services on the Island, said: “The risk of stroke is far more common as we get older and we are seeing this on the Island, with 25-30% of the Island’s population being over 65yrs. However, we are also seeing a lot more young people experience stroke, which is a real concern. This is sometimes due to lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol and taking drugs like cocaine. These are all things which, if identified early on, we can offer advice and support to help people avoid the risks. This is where the NHS Health Checks for people aged between 40-75yrs are so important in identifying these risk factors.”

Other symptoms that people should be aware of as these may occasionally be due to stroke include:

  • Sudden loss of vision or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • Sudden memory loss or confusion
  • Sudden dizziness, unsteadiness or a sudden fall, especially with any of the other symptoms

The Island has a comprehensive Stroke Service which includes a dedicated Acute Stroke Unit with a direct admission pathway from the Emergency Department to the Unit. Rapid-access TIA Clinics (Transient Ischaemic Attack or mini-stroke) are held for anyone experiencing the warning signs of stroke and specialist assessments are carried out and, if necessary, swift treatment, such as Thrombolysis, is given. Thrombolysis is an effective clot-busting drug which has the potential to reduce disability following a stroke but it can only be given to certain patients who meet the strict criteria. Approximately 6% of people who have had a stroke had a positive effect from thrombolysis.

Jeannine Johnson, continued: “Speed is of the essence. Thrombolysis needs to be administered within three hours of the first symptoms of stroke and unfortunately it cannot be given to everyone. But even for the people who are not eligible for thrombolysis, we still need them to act quickly if they develop signs of a stroke and remember F.A.S.T to minimise any possible long term damage caused. We are continuing to look at other treatments which we can give to minimise the damage of stroke.”

The Stroke service also helps patients to leave hospital sooner by continuing their treatment where they are living. The Community Stroke Rehabilitation Team (CRST) which include nurses, physiotherapists, dieticians, occupational therapists, support workers and speech and language therapists, can provide help and advice on a whole range of areas and work closely with adult social services and the Stroke Association to provide an effective service on the Island.

The Isle of Wight NHS Trust is supporting the ‘Act F.A.S.T.’ stroke campaign which runs until 31 March 2017.

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