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Act FAST: Recognise the symptoms of a stroke

Stroke is a ‘brain attack’ caused by a disturbance to the blood supply to the brain. Stroke is the third biggest cause of death in the UK, accounting for 10% of deaths (more than 45,000) each year, and the largest single cause of severe disability.

Being seen early after the onset is crucial to the effectiveness of stroke treatments. This applies to those with either ischaemic or haemorrhagic stroke of any severity and for people of any age.

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is supporting the Act F.A.S.T campaign which has been developed by the Department of Health to highlight the symptoms of stroke and the importance of emergency treatment.

F.A.S.T., which stands for Face-Arm-Speech-Time, is a simple test to help people recognise the signs of stroke and understand the importance of emergency treatment. The campaign encourages people to call 999 as soon as possible.

Facial weakness: 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?
If you see any one of these three signs, it’s TIME to call 999. Stroke is always a medical emergency.

Dr Mark Hayes, Chief Clinical Officer at NHS Vale of York CCG, said: “Calling an ambulance means that patients can be seen by medical professionals sooner. With a stroke, time lost is brain lost, so the quicker a patient arrives at a specialist unit, the quicker they will receive appropriate treatment and the better their chances are of surviving and reducing long-term disability. If you suspect a stroke, always dial 999.”

Recent results show an exceptionally high awareness of the campaign and a significant improvement in the public’s ability to spots signs of stroke. It is hoped that the Act F.A.S.T campaign will continue to help increase awareness about the signs of stroke so people can help family, friends and others should a stroke occur.

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