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Cambridge stroke survivor urges people to act FAST

News   •   Feb 07, 2017 12:11 GMT

The Stroke Association is calling for people across Cambridge to be more aware of the early warning signs of stroke, and to share the FAST message to help save more lives.

The FAST Test identifies the three most common symptoms of a stroke and the right action to take:

FACE: Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?

ARM weakness: Can the person raise both arms?

SPEECH problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?

TIME to call 999

Gillian Johnson, 51, from Cambridgeshire survived a stroke in 2015 and is now spreading the word about recognising FAST Test symptoms.

Gillian said: “My day started much the same as any other. I had not been ill, I did not have a headache or pain of any sort. I suddenly misjudged my step and fell to the left. My daughter asked what happened and I thought that I had replied with “I have no idea”. But I didn't realise that my speech was illegible and she couldn't understand me. I was incredibly hot and sweating profusely but, for some unknown reason, didn't question the fact that the left side of my body wasn't working. My daughter was confused as to why I wasn't even trying to take my jumper off or attempting to stand up. My brain hadn't registered that my left hand side wasn't working and I had lost the ability to speak.

“Thankfully my daughter recognised the warning signs of a stroke immediately. When I heard her ring for an ambulance the penny started to drop and I realised that I was quite ill. I am so proud of her actions that day, her quick thinking and actions definitely saved my life.

“I am now 18 months POST stroke and have returned to work. I maintain regular exercise .”

Sara Betsworth, Regional Director for the Stroke Association in the East of England, said: “Having a stroke is devastating. It can happen to anyone, of any age, at any time. Every second counts when you are having a stroke, so recognising the signs and calling 999 for an ambulance is crucial. A stroke is a medical emergency – as serious as a heart attack, so you need to seek immediate medical help. The quicker a person arrives at a specialist stroke unit, the quicker they will receive appropriate treatment to minimise the impact of their stroke.

“We want more people in Cambridgeshire to learn the FAST test and share it with their friends and family to help others to save lives, and improve the chance of a better recovery for those who experience stroke.”

To find out more about the FAST campaign, and to view information and support available, visit www.stroke.org.uk/FAST.