The Stroke Association is calling for people across Stoke-on-Trent 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
Carol Pickthorne, 47, from Sneyd Green, survived a stroke in November 2014 and is now spreading the word about recognising the FAST Test symptoms. Carol believes the FAST Test could have saved her life. She had her first stroke in the summer of 2014, and was meeting with her local Stroke Association coordinator, Gemma Millward, at the time of her second stroke.
Carol told Gemma that she had been experiencing a severe headache that week, and that her balance had been off. At this point, Gemma realised that as Carol was speaking, something wasn’t right quite with her speech. Gemma immediately carried out the FAST Test with Carol, and realised she was having a stroke. Gemma called for an ambulance straight away and Carol was taken to hospital.
Carol adds, “Gemma really did save my life the day of my second stroke. When I think back to what was happening, it was obvious that I was showing all the signs of a stroke, but I never pieced it altogether. I now walk with a stick and have limited movement in my left arm, but the hospital said getting to them so quickly was the best thing I could have done. I’d tell anyone who thinks they may be having a stroke to act FAST and get help immediately.”
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 Stoke-on-Trent 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.