Stroke campaign is launched

A campaign has been launched to remind people in Sleaford and across the East Midlands to be aware of the symptoms of a stroke and to raise the alarm at the first signs of one taking place.

The Act F.A.S.T. campaign from Public Health England (PHE) urges people to call 999 if they notice even one of the signs of a stroke in themselves or others.

It uses the acronym:

n Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?

n Arms – can they raise both their arms and keep them there?

n Speech – is their speech slurred?

n Time – time to call 999.

Current figures show there are just under 92,000 people on GP registers in the East Midlands who have had a stroke.

In the NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, of which Sleaford is a part, the tally is 4,556 people – one of the higher figures for the region.

Wendy Martin, lead nurse and midwife for quality and governance at NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The stroke prevalence for Lincolnshire is reflective of our generally older population, compared to the national average.

“Higher numbers of strokes in the middle to older age groups tend to be influenced by lifestyle choices, although this isn’t all. They can, sometimes, be related to a heart condition or familial conditions.

“Some of the negative lifestyle choices that may increase stroke propensity are, for example, unhealthy eating, smoking and a lack of regular exercise.

“It is important if experiencing any of the symptoms of stroke, as per the FAST guidance, that individuals seek prompt medical attention.”

Stroke is the third most common cause of premature death, the PHE says, and a leading cause of disability in the UK.

One of the messages of the Act F.A.S.T campaign is that while the majority (59 per cent) of strokes occur in the older generation, PHE has found that more than a third (38 per cent) of first time strokes happen in middle-aged adults (between the ages of 40 and 69).

More first time strokes are now occurring at an earlier age compared to a decade ago, it says.

The average age for males having a stroke fell from 71 to 68 years and for females, 75 to 73 years between 2007 and 2016, it added.

Seán Meehan, health and wellbeing programme lead for PHE in the East Midlands, said: “Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in England, and in the East Midlands strokes lead to more than 2,000 deaths every year – with 2,595 people dying from a stroke in 2016.

“The faster someone experiencing a stroke gets emergency treatment, the more chance that person has of surviving and avoiding serious disability.

“It is crucial to Act FAST when you see any single one of the symptoms of stroke, and do not delay making that all-important 999 call.”