Why you must act FAST and dial 999 immediately if you see signs of a stroke

A stroke is a serious, life-threatening condition and urgent treatment is essential. Thesooner a person receives treatment for a stroke the less damage is likely to happenand their chances of a making a better recovery improve.

Dial 999 if you are showing symptoms of a stroke
Dial 999 if you are showing symptoms of a stroke

If you are worried that you, a friend or family member are showing symptoms of having a stroke do not delay – call 999 immediately.

New research has revealed that nearly half of the public have concerns about seeking help from the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic.

The NHS is working hard to manage coronavirus, but we’re also working hard to ensure patients can safely access essential services to treat strokes, and help people recover, whenever they are needed.

If you suspect a stroke, dial 999

The main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word FAST:

· Face – has the person’s face dropped on one side? Signs of this would be they might not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.

· Arms – can the person lift both arms? A person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.

· Speech – can the person speak clearly? The speech of a person having a stroke may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.

Professor Nik Patel

· Time - do not delay by even a second, it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.

Professor Nik Patel, Consultant Cardiologist at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (pictured above), said: “Since late March, we have seen a 50% reduction in patients who present with heart attacks, stroke or mini strokes.

‘‘Treatments for heart conditions and strokes have come a long way in the last five years. However, the most effective treatment relies on early intervention. Delay can result in an adverse long term outcome or even loss of life.

“It is really difficult when we see patients who have delayed seeking help, when we know that if they had acted sooner, treatment could have been more successful.

Derek, a stroke patient from Eastbourne

“People may feel that they do not wish to worry us, but nothing can be further from the truth. We are well prepared to provide safe and high quality treatment 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Please do not delay - act FAST if you have symptoms, we are here to help.”

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) Medical Director Dr Fionna Moore said: “If anyone is experiencing any of the typical signs of a stroke, people need to call 999 without delay.

“In recent weeks we have seen a fall in the number of people calling us for potentially serious issues as they don’t want to put the NHS under pressure, or are not keen on attending hospital.

“But the risks of suffering a stroke and not receiving specialist treatment quickly are far greater than the perceived risks of catching coronavirus.

“Ambulance staff have faced additional pressure over recent weeks and they’ve all risen brilliantly to the challenge.

“We are responding well across our region and we need people to help us help them by taking the signs of potential stroke seriously and by listening to our crews if they advise further hospital treatment.”

If you have any stories about how you have continued using the NHS during this pandemic, we would love to hear from you. Please email [email protected]

“I have been looked after perfectly”

Derek from Eastbourne said: ‘‘I have recently been in hospital having suffered a stroke. My wife saw the symptoms and rang 999.

“Because of what has been going on, I was conscious of not burdening the NHS but what I want to tell you is to ring 999 if you have any symptoms of stroke - it is very important.

“Since I have been in hospital I have been looked after perfectly - scanned, diagnosed and treated straight away. They are real professionals at the hospital.

“So don’t delay if you have had a stroke or think you are having a stroke. Do what you would usually do, act FAST, pick up the phone and ring 999.’’

The NHS is still here when you need it

If you’ve had a stroke it is also important to carry on with any appointments you have to aid your recovery. If you, or a friend or family members have had a stroke and you’re worried about coronavirus, you can get advice about coronavirus and stroke from the Stroke Association.

Don’t forget the NHS is still here for you when you need it. You can still:

· Contact your GP practice either by phone or online via the NHS app

· Contact NHS111 online or by phone if you need urgent medical help and advice

· Contact 999 or go to A&E if it’s serious or life-threatening

· Attend regular vaccination appointments – to prevent outbreaks of deadly serious diseases

· Attend your screening appointments when invited

If you or a member of your family is showing signs of coronavirus, please call NHS111 first to get advice.