The Stroke Association is calling for people across the West Midlands 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
Alan Corbett, 69, from Webheath, survived a stroke in 2013 and is now spreading the word about recognising the FAST Test symptoms.
Alan had gone to bed feeling unwell and found himself having to get up a number of times during the night, each time feeling imbalanced and struggling to walk. His arm felt weak but he passed it off as nothing serious. The following morning Alan struggled to get up and lay in bed for much longer than he usually would. Eventually reaching the bathroom, Alan struggled to grip his shaving kit and dropped everything he tried to use.
Alan said: “I became really irritated and it was only when I caught my reflection in the mirror that I realised something was seriously wrong. My face had fallen on the left side and I couldn’t smile or call for help. I remembered the FAST test I’d seen on television and knew I had to call an ambulance.”
Alan couldn’t shout his wife as his speech was slurred. He attempted to dress himself but couldn’t and struggled to get down stairs to his wife to raise the alarm.
When Alan finally managed to attract the attention of his wife, she called an ambulance immediately. Luckily, the ambulance arrived four minutes later and after conducting the FAST test, the paramedics were able to get Alan to hospital in good time.
Alan said: “My father had died of a stroke twenty years previously, so I was worried about my chance of recovery. After nearly two weeks in hospital, I began to regain my speech and could walk again, though I was still unsteady on my feet. After six weeks of physiotherapy, I was able to walk confidently.”
Bernice Jones, Regional Director 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 the West Midlands 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.