Having a stroke is a medical emergency – Act F.A.S.T and dial 999 immediately

With all the publicity around the coronavirus, it is easy to forget that there are other serious health conditions that cause death and disability. The NHS continues to be ‘Still here for you’ during the coronavirus outbreak and we urge people not to ignore signs and symptoms that could be potentially life changing and life threatening.

Stroke is the largest cause of disability in the UK and the fourth biggest killer. In West Yorkshire and Harrogate, around 3000 people a year have a stroke with two thirds of stroke survivors left with some form of physical, mental or emotional disability – often completely life changing.

Having a stroke or a ‘mini stroke’ (known as a Transient Ischaemic Attack where symptoms may be temporary) is a medical emergency. Hospital is the safest place to be and the region’s stroke services are ready and waiting to look after people.

During the first wave of the pandemic, many people with medical emergencies were reluctant to come to hospital and may have missed out on life changing treatment. Help us to help you or someone you love by spotting the signs and preventing conditions worsening when they could be treated early.

Knowing the signs of a stroke is key and people need to Act F.A.S.T. if they or someone close to them experience the following:

Face – has their face drooped?

Arms – do they have arm weakness?

Speech – Is it slurred or absent?

Time – Time to dial 999 immediately!

Every second of delay, perhaps through calling a GP practice to make an appointment, may lead to further loss of brain cells and reduce the chances of survival or avoiding disability.

Stroke is a medical emergency – if you spot the signs, Act F.A.S.T. and dial 999 immediately.

Prabal K Datta, Stroke Consultant at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Lead Clinician for the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Integrated Stroke Delivery Network (ISDN) said “Since the start of the pandemic our experience shows that many people have remained at home with stroke symptoms. I strongly want to remind people that stroke services across the whole of West Yorkshire and Harrogate have been fully operational throughout the pandemic and continue to be so. I urge people not to delay seeking emergency medical attention for a fear of coming into hospital and contracting COVID–19.”

Robert Minton-Taylor, stroke survivor, who receives his care and treatment in West Yorkshire, said “If you have had a stroke you should never worry about calling an ambulance and going into hospital. There is a four-hour window for thrombolysis treatment between the first signs of a stroke and successful recovery from one.”

He also went on to say “If you have a stroke it is critically important that you get to a hospital right away because it could save your life. Men don’t like complaining or making a fuss. We can be as stubborn as mules. I thought I had cramp and took myself off to bed thinking a night’s sleep would cure it. Fortunately, my wife, a former nurse, noticed that the left side of my mouth was drooping and rushed me to hospital. I was told the following day that had I left it an hour longer I may have died.”

 

Stroke is a disabling disease and timely intervention can make a big difference to the eventual outcome and independence. Every single minute delay can prove to be a major life changer as more and more nerve cells die without proper intervention. Strokes can be caused by a clot in a blood vessel stopping blood flow or from a rupture of a blood vessel leading to a bleed. Both types of strokes are a medical emergency. In the former removal of clot by giving clot busting drugs or extracting the clot from the brain can only be administered in the first few hours of stroke and not afterwards. In the latter situation managing blood pressure in the first few hours of a bleed is crucial.

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