Page last updated at 23:59 GMT, Thursday, 4 December 2008

Plan for 12m stroke ad campaign

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One man made a good recovery because he was treated quickly

A 12m awareness campaign will be launched by the government in the new year to help people remember what the first symptoms of stroke are.

Posters and leaflets will be placed in GP surgeries, village halls and libraries, while adverts will be run in newspapers, on TV and on the radio.

They will focus on how an attack affects the face, arms and speech.

It is part of the government's three-year 100m stroke strategy in England which was published last year.

Ministers acted after criticisms that the standard of stroke care was lagging behind other European nations.

We want to build on this progress by helping the public to recognise the symptoms of stroke and dial 999 quickly
Ann Keen, health minister

Strokes are the third biggest killer in the country, behind cancer and heart disease - responsible for 50,000 deaths a year.

The strategy has made getting early access to scans and treatment a priority.

But it also promised it would do more to make the public aware of how to recognise that an attack has happened.

One of the problems is that people do not always realise they are having a stroke - which leads to a late diagnosis, increasing the chances of death and disability.

The awareness campaign, which will be launched in February, will focus on what in the health service is known as Fast - facial weakness, arm weakness, speech problems, and "time to call 999".

Internet programme

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Stroke is the third biggest killer of people in this country

As well as the poster campaign and the media advertising, an internet programme using film clips about stroke that can be forwarded on to people is also expected to be developed.

Health minister Ann Keen said she wanted the campaign to build on the progress made so far, pointing out that access to scans has been improved, while health and social care teams are now working in integrated networks.

"We want to build on this progress by helping the public to recognise the symptoms of stroke and dial 999 quickly," she says.

Prof Roger Boyle "Time is of the essence, if the symptoms of stroke appear"

Jon Barrick, chief executive of the Stroke Association, said the awareness campaign was "vital".

Speaking about Fast, he said: "We know that it's the best way for people to remember how to recognise the signs of stroke."

Dr Tony Rudd, Chair of the Intercollegiate Stroke Group, welcomed the move.

He said: "If carried out well, it could be an important factor in reducing death and disability.

"We know people's recognition and understanding of stroke symptoms is often quite poor.

"This can lead to patients delaying a trip to their doctor or in calling 999, and in some cases inadequate care once they arrive at a hospital."

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