A campaign to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of stroke - the third biggest killer in Scotland after heart disease and cancer - was launched this week by NHS Western Isles and Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS).
Stroke claims the lives of one in eight women and one in ten men and leaves thousands more with some form of permanent disability.
However, recognising the signs and symptoms of stroke through the FAST (the Face, Arm, Speech, Time to call 999) campaign, can prevent further damage to the brain and help someone make a full recovery. Delay can result in death or major long term disabilities, such as paralysis, severe memory loss and communication problems.
Stroke is a condition that affects approximately 80 residents in the Western Isles every year, and through the FAST campaign, the aim is that people will be able to act quickly if they recognise any one of the signs of stroke.
To spot the signs of a stroke, just remember the word FAST, where
F stands for FACE. Can the person smile normally? Does their mouth droop?
A is for ARM. Can they lift both arms normally?
S is for SPEECH. Can they speak clearly? and
T is for TIME. Time to call 999 if any of these signs are present.
The national campaign was launched at the Grianan Centre in Stornoway on Monday March 11th and was attended by the Chief Executives from both NHS Western Isles and CHSS, as well as by members of the ‘Monday Club’, which is a local support group for people who have had a stroke.
NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson explained that, as a trained nurse, he had cared for many people who had suffered a stroke.
“Speaking from personal experience, I cannot overemphasise the importance of this campaign and I am extremely pleased to launch it here in the Western Isles,” he said. “It is so important to raise public awareness of the early signs of a stroke, because rapid treatment can make a huge difference to the odds of surviving or being left with some form of long term disability.”
David Clark, Chief Executive, CHSS, pointed out: “A stroke is a medical emergency; you can lose nearly 2 million brain cells a minute – the equivalent of 3 years of normal ageing. The quicker you can access specialist medical treatment, the better.
“Here in the Western Isles, more than 600 people in the community are currently living with the effects of a stroke. There are however very good services here in Stornoway and very effective telemedicine links to mainland centres to help ensure that people here get the best possible treatment as quickly as possible.”
Posters, wallet cards and other promotional materials have been circulated throughout the Western Isles, and blood pressure checks have been held in various locations. Elevated blood pressure is a silent risk of stroke and, through the free checks, the local stroke liaison nurse has been able to advise people on the best course of action if their blood pressure has been assessed as high.
For more information visit Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland at www.chss.org.uk.