Public Health England (PHE) today launches the Act F.A.S.T. stroke campaign which urges the public to call 999 if they notice even one of the signs of a stroke in themselves, or in others.
Offering her full support for the campaign, TV star Gloria Hunniford, 77, has retold the terrifying moment she found her husband having a stroke at home, and how vital it is to spot the signs of an attack.
Two years ago, Gloria was about to leave her Kent home to go present The One Show when her husband, Stephen Way stumbled into their bedroom.
“He was mumbling and said his left arm felt like cotton wool.
“My dad had suffered strokes in the past so I was aware of the signs. I made him lie down in the bed and rang my GP straight away.”
Gloria was advised by her doctor to take Stephen to A&E.
Luckily the man driving her to the studios that day was already waiting outside, so the three of them headed straight to the hospital together.
At hospital, Stephen was treated with a clot-busting drug – a procedure known as thrombolysis.
This treatment only works effectively if delivered within three hours. It can’t be administered after four and a half hours as it’s considered too unsafe.
Luckily, thanks to Gloria’s fast actions, Stephen was within the three hours.
The procedure comes with a seven per cent risk of causing dangerous bleeding in the brain, but in Stephen’s case, the medication was effective.
Two years on, all that remains of Stephen’s stroke experience is slight tingling in his left side during cold weather.
Gloria said: “Being aware of the signs, calling 999 and getting to hospital as quickly as possible is just so important – it can make such a big difference.
“After stroke it’s important to keep on the go – that’s what Stephen does. He does DIY, walks the dog and drinks plenty of water – because that was one of the recommendations by the doctor.”
The Act F.A.S.T. stroke campaign embodies four signs to look out for.
Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
Arms – can they raise both their arms and keep them there?
Speech – is their speech slurred?
Time – time to call 999
One mistake by people, is that someone having stroke has to show all four signs. But a single one of these can be an indication.
Professor Julia Verne, Public Health England Director, said: “Stroke is still one of the leading causes of death in England. While it’s often associated with older people, the latest research shows that people are having strokes at a younger age. Everyone needs to be aware of the signs.
“Calling 999 as soon as you see even one of the symptoms develop – in the face, arms and speech – is essential. Speedy treatment will help prevent deaths and disability.”
The best way to prevent stroke happening, according to the NHS, is a low-fat, high-fibre diet, regular exercise, to stop smoking and cut down on alcohol.
Stroke risk is five times more likely in patients who suffer with an irregular heartbeat – a condition known as atrial fibrillation.