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GPs back campaign to raise awareness of stroke symptoms

GPs in Waltham Forest 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. 

The Make May Purple campaign aims to raise awareness of the symptoms and risk factors associated with stroke, and support research into the condition. 

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.

In the UK, a stroke happens every five minutes and can often be fatal. In Waltham Forest, around 2,893 people living in the borough had a stroke in 2017/18. 

Recent figures from Public Health England show that the majority (59%) of strokes occur in the older generation, over a third (38%) of first time strokes happen in middle-aged adults (between the ages of 40-69). More first-time strokes are now occurring at an earlier age compared to a decade ago.  

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

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. 

People can play a key part in making sure their loved ones receive care as quickly as possible. Part of this is being aware of the signs and symptoms of someone having a stroke and knowing what to do.

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
  • Loss of vision in one or both eyes / double vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Weakness, numbness or paralysis
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sudden severe headache

Dr, Nausheen Hameed a local GP and cardiology lead for Chair of NHS Waltham Forest Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:

“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.

“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. Speedy treatment will make a significant difference to someone’s recovery and rehabilitation”.

Throughout May, Stroke Association is encouraging people to wear purple to raise money to support stroke survivors and fund research into the condition.  The local Stroke Association is also running a stoke survivors support day on Wednesday 29 May, at the Disability Resource Centre (90 Crownfield Road, Leyton E15 2BG) from 10am - 4pm. Stroke survivors, families, carers and local professionals are all invited to attend and share their stroke experiences.