Page last updated at 01:35 GMT, Monday, 9 November 2009

Stroke campaign boosts awareness

The campaign urges people to act fast at the first signs of a stroke

The number of 999 calls about symptoms of a possible stroke has increased by 55% in England since the launch of an awareness campaign in February.

The Department of Health campaign promoted a simple test to recognise the signs of a stroke and act quickly.

Stroke accounts for 9% of deaths in men and 13% of deaths in women in the UK.

But swift emergency action can limit damage in the brain and dramatically increase a person's chances of surviving.

FACE - Has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
ARMS - Can they raise both arms and keep them there?
SPEECH - Is their speech slurred?
TIME - Time to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs
Department of Health

The Face, Arm, Speech, Time (FAST) test was developed by leading stroke physicians.

It is used by the emergency services to help them detect warning signs of a stroke at the earliest possible stage.

Posters and leaflets promoting the test under the slogan Act FAST were placed in GP surgeries, village halls and libraries, while adverts ran in newspapers and on TV and radio.

It is part of the government's three-year £100m stroke strategy in England, published two years ago.

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

'Big impact'

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.

Owain Wyn-Jones, 30, from Shropshire, believes the campaign saved his life
His fiancee Laraine Adams identified his face dropping and slurred speech as a sign of a stroke, having seen the campaign adverts
He said: "My fiancee recognised the symptoms in me, called an ambulance and subsequently saved my life."

"The Act FAST 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."

Joe Korner of the Stroke Association said the campaign appeared to have a real impact.

He said: "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."

Blocked artery

Strokes cost the NHS around £2.8bn a year - nearly £1bn more than heart disease.

Every year in the UK, an estimated 150,000 people have a stroke. Around 300,000 people are living with moderate to severe disabilities as a result of a stroke.

Around one in four strokes occurs in people who are under the age of 65.

The National Stroke Strategy says patients with a suspected stroke should have a brain scan as soon as possible to determine if it was caused by a blocked artery or a burst blood vessel.

They should also be given clot-busting drugs where appropriate.

But only a small minority of UK stroke patients reach hospital and undergo CT scanning within three hours, which is necessary if these drugs are to be given.

The data was taken from a comparison of nearly four months' calls to seven ambulance trust regions between 2008 and 2009.

Print Sponsor

'Swift action' aids stroke care
09 Feb 09 |  Health
Plan for 12m stroke ad campaign
04 Dec 08 |  Health
Women 'ignorant' of stroke risk
11 Nov 08 |  Health
More GP hours 'could cut strokes'
19 Sep 08 |  Health
NHS 'has more to do over stroke'
14 Sep 08 |  Health

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific