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Stroke ward CREDIT Stroke Association

Press release -

World Stroke Day raises alarm for ‘second wave’ of pandemic stroke patients

World Stroke Day raises alarm for ‘second wave’ of pandemic stroke patients

New statistics from the Stroke Association reveal that almost one in three (29%) stroke survivors who had a stroke during the pandemic delayed seeking emergency medical attention due to Covid-19.(1) This World Stroke Day (Thurs 29 Oct), the charity is asking all UK governments to commit to investing in Act FAST public health messaging in preparation for any surges in Covid-19 cases.

Act FAST is one of the UK’s most successful public health campaigns and has motivated people to treat stroke as a medical emergency and call 999 when they see the signs and symptoms of a stroke.

Every year there are 100,000 strokes across the UK(2).

Dr David Hargroves, Consultant Stroke Physician and Clinical lead for Stroke across East Kent Hospitals said: “A stroke is a life-threatening condition and a mini-stroke is a warning sign that a major stroke is likely. By acting FAST you can save lives. Remember, Face – is their face drooping on one side? Arms – can they lift them? Speech – is their speech slurred? If you spot any one of these symptoms then it’s Time to call 999. The quicker your loved one receives the right specialist treatment the better their chances of avoiding long-term disability or death.

“I’d like to reassure people that our specialist stroke units are equipped and ready to treat stroke patients. So the best thing you can do if you see someone showing the signs of a stroke, is to call 999 immediately.”

As the UK deals with a second wave of the pandemic, the charity is highlighting some impacts that Covid-19 has already had on public health and behaviours:

  • In the UK, attendances to Emergency Departments were significantly lower. Between April and June 2020 hospital attendances to Emergency Departments almost halved (44.7%) when compared to April to June 2019. This suggests that there are some people with potentially life threatening conditions who are risking their lives by not going to the Emergency Departments.(3-6)
  • Admissions to hospital stroke units in England, Wales and Northern Ireland continued to remain down. From 23 March to 30 June there were a total of 19,106 stroke admissions. This is a 10.6% (21,379) drop from 1 January to 31 March 2020 and a 13.4% (22,068) drop compared to the same time (April to Jun 2019) last year.(7)
  • Stroke deaths in care homes were 39% higher than the five-year average in England and Wales, and stroke deaths in private homes increased (52%), during the Covid-19 surge from mid-March until May and doubled in one week in mid-March.(8)
  • Despite being most at risk, a third of over 65s said they were likely to put off calling 999 for non-Covid life threatening conditions.(9)

As new local restrictions continue to be announced and fears around contracting Covid-19 mount, the Stroke Association is urging the public to treat stroke as the life-threatening condition it is.

Juliet Bouverie, Chief Executive of the Stroke Association says: “We heard from stroke clinicians in the first wave that as the number of reported Covid-19 cases went up, the number of people presenting at A&E with stroke dropped considerably. Strokes haven’t stopped happening, which means that people are in danger of dying at home, and not getting the treatment they need to prevent long-term disability. As we prepare for winter along with the recent increases of Covid-19 cases, we want to ensure that anybody experiencing or witnessing any stroke symptoms dials 999. Stroke is a life-threatening, medical emergency and time lost is brain lost. The quicker you act the more of a person you are likely to save, giving them hope of a better recovery.

“This World Stroke Day we’re living and adapting to a new normal across the globe, just like thousands of stroke survivors do on a daily basis. As new lockdown restrictions are put in to place across different areas around the UK, everybody needs to know the signs of a stroke by using the FAST test (Face Arms Speech Time to call 999). A stroke can strike anyone at any time. It could happen to you or someone you love, so as a community let’s not forget those people who may be living alone. The NHS remains open and equipped to treat stroke patients. It’s vital that anybody who may be having a stroke is given the best chance of recovery because you acted FAST.”

Symptoms such as facial drooping, arm weakness and speech difficulties are the most common, (but not exclusive), signs of a stroke. The signs of a TIA/mini-stroke are the same as a stroke, but leave within 24 hours. A TIA/mini-stroke is a sign that a full stroke could be on the way.

Other signs of stroke can include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, including legs, hands or feet.
  • Difficulty finding words or speaking in clear sentences.
  • Sudden blurred vision or loss of sight in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden memory loss or confusion, and dizziness or a sudden fall.
  • A sudden, severe headache.

If you spot any one of these signs of a stroke, don't wait. Call 999 straight away.

For more information about stroke and the Act FAST campaign go to www.stroke.org.uk/fast.

-Ends-

For more information on the story, please contact: scott.weddell@stroke.org.uk 0207 566 1528

References

  1. Stroke Recoveries at Risk Report. Stroke Association 2020.
  2. Stroke Statistics, Stroke Association 2020; https://www.stroke.org.uk/what-is-stroke/stroke-statistics
  3. England: Gov.uk; Emergency department: weekly bulletins for 2020: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/emergency-department-weekly-bulletins-for-2020
  4. Scotland: ISDA Scotland; NHS Performs - weekly update of emergency department activity and waiting time statistics: https://beta.isdscotland.org/find-publications-and-data/health-services/hospital-care/nhs-performs-weekly-update-of-emergency-department-activity-and-waiting-time-statistics/
  5. Wales: StatsWales; Number of attendances in NHS Wales accident and emergency departments by age band, sex and site: https://statswales.gov.wales/Catalogue/Health-and-Social-Care/NHS-Hospital-Waiting-Times/Accident-and-Emergency/accidentemergencyattendances-by-age-sex-site
  6. Northern Ireland: Department of Health; Emergency Care Waiting Times: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/health/hs-niwts-ecwt-data-q1-20-21.html#all-types
  7. Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme (SSNAP) clinical audit data: https://www.strokeaudit.org/results/Clinical-audit/National-Results.aspx
  8. Office of National Statistics (ONS); Analysis of death registrations not involving coronavirus (COVID-19), England and Wales: 28 December 2019 to 1 May 2020.
  9. Taken from market research specialists, Eden Stanley, based on their monthly survey of 1,000 respondents conducted 1 – 31 May 2020.

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  • Stroke strikes every five minutes in the UK and it changes lives in an instant.
  • The Stroke Association is a charity working across the UK to support people to rebuild their lives after stroke. We believe that everyone deserves to live the best life they can after stroke. From local support services and groups, to online information and support, anyone affected by stroke can visit stroke.org.uk or call our dedicated Stroke Helpline on 0303 3033 100 to find out about support available locally.
  • Our specialist support, research and campaigning are only possible with the courage and determination of the stroke community and the generosity of our supporters. With more donations and support, we can help rebuild even more lives.
  • You can follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Press contacts

Sokina Miah

Sokina Miah

Press contact Press Officer UK national media 0207 566 0337
Angela Macleod

Angela Macleod

Press contact Communications Officer Scotland and Wales 0131 555 7244
Joe Kenny

Joe Kenny

Press contact Press Officer Northern Ireland and Wales
Ken Scott

Ken Scott

Press contact Press Officer North of England 0115 778 8429
Martin Oxley

Martin Oxley

Press contact Press Officer South of England 0207 566 1548
Vicki Hall

Vicki Hall

Press contact PR Manager Fundraising and local services 0161 742 7478
Scott Weddell

Scott Weddell

Press contact PR Manager Policy and research 0207 566 1528
Out of hours contact

Out of hours contact

Press contact Media queries 07799 436008

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The UK's leading stroke charity helping people to rebuild their lives after stroke

The Stroke Association. We believe in life after stroke. That’s why we campaign to improve stroke care and support people to make the best possible recovery. It’s why we fund research to develop new treatments and ways to prevent stroke. The Stroke Association is a charity. We rely on your support to change lives and prevent stroke. Together we can conquer stroke.

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