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Islington stroke survivor urges people to act FAST

Press Release   •   Feb 20, 2017 11:09 GMT

The Stroke Association is calling for people across London 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

Fred Rooke, 87, from Islington survived a stroke in 2015 and is now spreading the word about recognising FAST Test symptoms.

Fred, a former competitive swimmer and P.E teacher, was at home with his wife, and his daughter Hazel, who was visiting to celebrate Mother’s Day. As Fred and Hazel were chatting, Hazel noticed that Fred’s mouth dropped to one side and he began to look confused.

Hazel said: “I remember looking at dad and instantly saw the worrying changes. The FAST advert I had seen on TV many times before, unfolded before my eyes. Mentally I superimposed my dad into that advert, and knew he was having a stroke.

“Time I knew was crucial, so I calmly told my dad to stay where he was and dialled 999.”

By chance a paramedic was in the area and within five minutes of Hazel’s call, he had arrived at the family home.

Hazel added: “The paramedic was brilliant, he called for an ambulance and dad was taken to hospital immediately. Having identified that a more minor TIA had occurred in the ambulance, the crew treated the situation as an emergency and rushed us to hospital.Within an hour, dad, had been given the clot busting drug – thrombolysis, had a scan and was recovering. We’re so thankful to the paramedics and the staff at University College Hospital.

“Dad is an amazing man. Even at 87 years old he is still keeping fit. Thankfully he has recovered really well and still regularly swims once a week, completing 40 lengths each swim! We look back at what happened that day and can’t believe how things unfolded and how fate played its part. The fact that it was Mother’s Day and we were visiting, that we had arrived extra early, that I was talking to dad rather than cooking in the kitchen whilst waiting for the job to be done and even that the paramedic was in the area so close to the house. It was unbelievable!”

Fred said: “I honestly believe a miracle happened to me on that day. I’m very lucky, and also owe a lot of thanks to the amazing doctors and nurses who treated me so quickly. I want to raise awareness of the FAST advert and advice because without it, I don’t think I’d be here today telling this story.

“I’d tell anyone who thinks they may be having a stroke to act FAST and get help immediately.”

Michelle Dalmacio, Director for Life After Stroke Services in London at the Stroke Association, 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 London 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.

  • A stroke is a brain attack which happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, caused by a clot or bleeding in the brain. There are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK each year; that is around one stroke every five minutes. There are over 1.2 million people in the UK living with the effects of stroke. 
  • Stroke Association is a charity. We believe in life after stroke and together we can conquer stroke. We work directly with stroke survivors and their families and carers, with health and social care professionals and with scientists and researchers. We campaign to improve stroke care and support people to make the best recovery they can. We fund research to develop new treatments and ways of preventing stroke. The Stroke Helpline (0303 303 3100) provides information and support on stroke. More information can be found at www.stroke.org.uk