50+ health * Healthy living

Stroke campaign leads to surge in 999 calls

Aims to reduce stroke death and disability

A government health campaign to boost awareness of the early symptoms of stroke has led to a 70% increase in people calling 999 about possible stroke.

Stroke, caused by a blood clot or bleeding in the brain, is the third leading cause of death in the UK after heart disease and cancer. Each year, an estimated 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke. It is the leading cause of disability in England.

The Act F.A.S.T. campaign launched in February highlighted the importance of recognising early symptoms of stroke and calling 999 immediately. A fast response reduces a stroke patient's risk of death and long term disability.

FAST : Know the symptoms of stroke

  1. Face: facial weakness - can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
  2. Arm: does it show weakness? - can the person raise both arms?
  3. Speech: problems - can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
  4. Time: time to call 999

Commenting on the campaign, Health Minister Ann Keen said: "Stroke is still one of the biggest causes of death and disability in England. It’s important that everyone recognises the signs and realises the importance of dialling 999 as quickly as possible.

"The faster treatment begins the more we can limit damage caused to the brain. The Act F.A.S.T. campaign has clearly had a big impact already and I hope more people will now see it and learn when to act fast and save lives.”

Responding to the research, Joe Korner, Director of External Communications at the Stroke Association, said: "The FAST adverts have really made an impact - the more people that recognise stroke symptoms and get emergency treatment the better.

"Calling an ambulance and getting to hospital immediately can make all the difference for stroke survivors. For many, this prompt action will substantially improve their quality of life."

This article was published on Mon 9 November 2009

Image © © James Steidl - Fotolia.com

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