Stroke Happen F.A.S.T. Every Second Counts

A Stroke is an attack on the brain, it can take a few forms caused by cutting off the blood supply to the brain, either completely or temporarily, or it can be caused by bleeding in or around the brain. When a stroke happens, it is imperative that urgent and immediate help is sought from the emergency services. A quick response from specialist stroke professionals is the key to survival. A brain scan and what is known as Thrombolysis treatment to disperse blood clots and keep the blood flowing to the brain can be the difference between life, death or many years of deterioration.

Speed is of the essence in stroke survival.

In the UK there are more than 100,000 strokes every year that cause 38,000 deaths (figures from: https://www.nice.org.uk/Media/Default/About/what-we-do/Into-practice/measuring-uptake/NICE-Impact-stroke.pdf )

A personal story of my own demonstrates the necessity for speed in emergency treatment for the effects of strokes.

There is a certain amount of longevity on my mother’s side of the family, but they have been known to have a history of strokes. Therefore, I have taken much interest in the work of the Stroke Association. https://www.stroke.org.uk/ and I have used their guidance here first.

The Stroke Association has a campaign of giving out cards with this simple mantra of F.A.S.T.

FAST is the message they use to make the population aware of how to recognise if someone is having a stroke and how to respond: Immediately call 999 if you see anybody with these signs.

F = Facial weakness; Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?

A = Arm weakness; Can the person raise both arms?

S = Speech problems; Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?

T = Time to call 999; Stroke is a medical emergency.

My family history for where strokes have happened has been for most a good recovery which has kept uncles and aunts going into their late eighties and early nineties. Unfortunately for me personally, my mother had a stroke that was not found fast enough and that brought on a dementia that lasted for over 7 years until her demise at age almost 91. That slow debilitation I would not wish on anybody and is why I am a supporter of the Stroke Association and their research whenever I can.

My mother was a very independent lady who when my father died very young at the age of 49 years dedicated her life to her 2 boys as only mothers with sons are known to. She lived on her own in a second-floor council flat whose stairs that she constantly moaned about probably kept her fit on her daily trips out until the age of 83 years. My brother and I visited as often as we could and were in regular contact but were not around to recognise the stroke that hit her, something we have regretted ever since.

It wasn’t a huge stroke, it was quite a mild one by all accounts and was discounted even by her GP as maybe something else like a water infection because of her behaviour being seen as a little unusual, even ‘batty!’ After a strange phone call answer to my brother on the fateful day, he visited immediately and found that she had not slept in her bed only a cosy chair in the kitchen and had not eaten anything apart from a microwaved pre-processed dinner. That was a sign to us as she had, all her life, been fastidious about cooking and eating fresh food. She was certainly acting strange, and her speech was a little slurred. Her GP had her taken to hospital where after initially being treated for the water infection she was correctly diagnosed as having a minor stroke. The slow recognition of that fact changed her life from that day forward until her death.

If you ever see any of those symptoms that the Stroke Association highlight in FAST do not hesitate to call 999 and tell the handlers that you suspect a stroke immediately. It could make all the difference between a normal life or many years deterioration in care, something I would not wish on anybody.

To this day I have tried to support the Stroke Association. They have many fund-raising events that you can register for. As a tribute to my mother, I did 3 sets of firewalking on the coals, shown in that picture at the heading, that the association had arranged, and we raised nearly 3 thousand pounds in her memory along with many others.

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