Do you know how to act FAST if a stroke strikes?

This month it is ‘Stroke Awareness Month’ and the team from the Oxfordshire Stroke Rehabilitation Unit (OSRU) are raising awareness of what to do if you suspect you are having a stroke, and ways you can reduce your own risk factors.

Do you know how to act FAST if a stroke strikes?

A stroke is a serious, life threatening condition which occurs when blood supply is cut off to part of your brain. Signs and symptoms to look out for are facial weakness, arm weakness and slurred speech. The Stroke Association’s ‘FAST’ tool can help you remember these:

Face – Has a person’s face fallen, can they smile? Are they able to move their facial muscles?

Arms – Can the person lift their arms and keep them there?

Speech – Is their speech slurred or are they having trouble communicating?

Time – If the above applies, it’s time to call 999.

It is a medical emergency, so if you suspect someone is having a stroke you must call 999.

Emma Garratt, clinical lead physiotherapist at Abingdon Community Hospital, said: “The FAST slogan is a quick and simple way to help people recognise the 3 most common signs of stroke. However, it is really important people are aware there are other signs such as a sudden onset of any of the following: weakness in one side, blurred vision or loss of sight on one side, memory loss or confusion, or severe headache.

“The quicker someone gets help the better, so I would really encourage people to call 999 urgently if they notice any of these signs.”

Unfortunately, someone in the UK has a stroke every 5 minutes and it is a leading cause of death. However, around 90% of strokes are preventable, and there are lots of things you can do to reduce your risk.

Knowing your blood pressure and living a healthy lifestyle including regular physical activity are some simple steps you and your family can take. The Stroke Association has more information about preventing a stroke on their website: Stroke prevention, Stroke Association

The team at OSRU provide intensive multidisciplinary rehabilitation for people in Oxfordshire who have had a new stroke.  You can learn more about the service from the video below. To find out more about the service click the following link.

Look out next week for an article about stroke research happening within Oxford Health, including interviews with our staff and patients.

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Published: 21 May 2021