Doctors back stroke campaign

Doctors and patients in Norfolk are backing a new campaign designed to save lives and reduce disabilities by raising awareness of strokes.Strokes, caused when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, can cause paralysis, difficulties with speaking and language, blindness or mental problems.

Doctors and patients in Norfolk are backing a new campaign designed to save lives and reduce disabilities by raising awareness of strokes.

Strokes, caused when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, can cause paralysis, difficulties with speaking and language, blindness or mental problems. But if the patient is treated immediately, the risk of long-term damage is reduced. People whose strokes are caused by a blood clot in the brain, and get a scan and a new treatment with clot-busting drugs within just three hours, have higher chances of survival. Acting quickly on warning signs like transient ischaemic attacks - sometimes called “mini-strokes” - saves lives and reduce long-term disability.

Strokes, which are bleeds or clots in the brain, is the UK's third biggest killer after heart disease and cancer. Now local health services and the Department of Health are promoting a test designed by the Stroke Association to help spot the signs.

The test, called FAST, stands for Face, Arm, Speech, Time to call 999. The questions to ask are:


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Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye dropped?

Can they raise both arms?

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Can you understand what they are trying to say? Are they speaking clearly?

If the answer to these is no, they should dial 999.

The Department of Health is also running awareness-raising adverts on television, radio and in print, which show stroke "spreading like fire in the brain".

Ann Medd, of Beetley, had a stroke in 2005 and has made a good recovery. Mrs Medd, 74, said: “I had two or three mini-strokes before I had my full-blown stroke. It was a shock to me and at the time I didn't fully realise what was happening to me. It's extremely important that not just the public but also doctors and nurses all recognise the signs of a stroke and use the FAST test.”

Norwich North MP Ian Gibson, who suffered a mild stroke in 2004 in Palestine, welcomed the campaign. He said: “Strokes kill far too many people and the secret is to get to someone very quickly when the symptoms are there and to teach people to recognise the symptoms.”

Kneale Metcalf, stroke consultant at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “Many people do not understand what a stroke is and they don't know what the danger signs are. The FAST campaign is very welcome as it will encourage people to recognise the symptoms and take prompt action.”

Patients in Norfolk are already benefiting from a weekday clot-busting service launched at the N&N last month. A similar pilot is being set up at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn this year.

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