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More awareness needed to act F.A.S.T to treat stroke and save lives.

Published: 27 April 2023

Public health experts are urging people to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of stroke, one of the biggest causes of death in Wales. Early medical treatment for stroke not only saves lives but increases the chances of recovery. The Act FAST campaign is launching across Wales today (27th April) to remind people about the symptoms of stroke and the importance of getting urgent medical help. 

Stroke is the fifth single leading cause of death in Wales and the single largest cause of complex disability. A delay in getting treatment for stroke kills brain cells and can sadly prove to be fatal. That’s why it’s important to act F.A.S.T.

  • Face - has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there?
  • Speech – is their speech slurred? 
  • Time – even if you’re not sure, call 999.

Public Health Wales has developed a national bi-lingual campaign to run across TV, radio and social media through April and May 2023.

Stroke survivor, case study. 49 year old Fran from Church Village in Pontypridd had a stroke in March 2022. The mother of three woke up in the middle of the night but she had no idea she was experiencing the first symptoms of a stroke. 

“I woke up and my face felt funny, I had a little drink and it was dribbling down my face but I thought nothing of it. I just thought I was tired so went back to sleep as I didn’t want to be a drama queen and disturb my husband and children. When I woke up in the morning I went downstairs. I tried to speak to my husband, but no words came out. I tried to speak a few times but then I panicked. I was frightened and had no idea what was happening to me.” 

The Services Manager’s three children had no idea about stroke or the FAST test. Her 14 year old son Macsen said,

“I didn’t know what a stroke was or what the symptoms were before my mum had a stroke. I now know how important it is to act FAST and know all the signs of the stroke. More people should know to call 999 and get to the hospital as soon as they can.” 

The stroke has left Fran with aphasia, which affects her communication and also leaves her fatigued.

Shakeel Ahmad, the National Clinical Lead for Stroke said:

“For every minute a stroke is left untreated, up to 2 million brain cells die, so it’s important to act FAST. It can make a significant difference to someone’s chances of survival as well improve their recovery and rehabilitation.”

Katie Chappelle, Associate Director for Wales,

“Every 5 minutes, someone in the UK will have a stroke. Stroke kills tens of thousands and leaves others with complex and severe disability every year. Acting FAST is the biggest thing you can do to save a life. As soon as you see any of the signs of stroke in yourself or someone else, you need to call 999. Treating mini strokes with the same urgency as strokes is also vital. If you spot any of these signs, even for a short time, it’s important you take action.

Last year we saw thousands of people with suspected stroke put off calling 999 due to fear of catching COVID-19 or being a burden on the NHS. People could now be living with more severe disability than they otherwise would because they put off calling 999. That’s why you need to know that acting FAST and calling 999 saves lives.”