The Stroke Association is calling for people across Hillingdon 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
Ravi Paul survived a stroke in 2009, and his brother Mohan is now spreading the word about recognising FAST Test symptoms.
In 2009 Ravi, 36, from Hillingdon, began to feel unwell, and slowly lost all feeling in one side of his body.
Mohan said: “When I got home, I noticed that Ravi couldn't move his right arm and his whole body was sort of just slumped to the side. My mum was confused about what was happening, and she couldn’t get any response from him.
“When I noticed that Ravi couldn’t move his arm and that his speech was affected too, that’s when I had a bad sinking feeling that something was seriously wrong. At that point I just knew Ravi was having a stroke – I couldn’t believe it as he was only 28 years old – but it was clear to me that he needed to get to hospital fast.
“I dialled 999 numerous times, stressing that I thought my brother was having a stroke. Unfortunately the ambulance took a long time to get to us and when paramedics finally did come, they thought Ravi was too young to have had a stroke and took a long time to examine him.”
As a result of his stroke, Ravi has been left with right sided weakness and a communication difficulty which has severely affected his ability to talk and understand words.
Mohan added: “Stroke has no respect for age. My brother was only 28 years old at the time, and in an instant his and our family’s lives changed forever. The FAST test is so important, I’d tell anyone who thinks they may be having a stroke to act FAST and get help immediately.”
Michelle Dalmacio, Director for Stroke Association’s Life After Stroke Services in London, 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 Hillingdon 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.