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
Allison Tovey-Allan, 32, from Twickenham survived a stroke in 2009 and is now spreading the word about recognising FAST Test symptoms.
Before her stroke, Allison had been having painful headaches for over a week. Allison said: “I thought the headaches were down to tiredness or the flu. It wasn’t until looking back now that I realise I had very obvious FAST symptoms.
“At work I struggled to type an email or make sense of the letters, and even dropped a mug when I tried to pick it up. That same day, I left work with my friend and my speech started to slur. The words coming out of my mouth were all jumbled and made no sense. After a few minutes my speech came back, but I remember thinking how strange I felt.”
“After dinner and on my way to the train station, my speech went again and I felt disorientated. Thankfully my friend knew something wasn’t right, she hailed a taxi and got me to the hospital.”
In the taxi Allison had a stroke. Allison was put in an induced coma and the next morning they performed a bi-lateral craniotomy, where they took away the left and right front sides of Allison’s skull to relieve the pressure. Allison spent over four weeks in a coma.
Allison’s stroke left her with a communication difficulty and weakness in the right side of her body. Allison wasn’t able to return to her job as a Marketing Coordinator, but wanted to continue her clothing label she had created before her stroke. Allison learnt how to sew one handed and use her left hand, and has gone on to set up and run her own baby clothing label called Mini A.
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.
Allison's website: www.mini-a.com