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Act F.A.S.T to save lives

The quicker people get help for someone who has had a suspected stroke, the better their chance of recovery, say GPs in Lewisham.stroke- Lew, Southwark, Wand,.jpg

Stroke is now one of the biggest killers in UK and one of the largest causes of disability among those who survive.  Age is the single biggest risk factor for stroke with the risk doubling every ten years after the age of 55.

Lewisham identifies less people than expected on all GP cardiovascular disease registers, and performs below the England average in identifying and managing cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease, stroke and transient ischaemic attack, hypertension, heart failure and atrial fibrillation) in primary care.

We are urging residents in Lewisham to call 999 without delay if they notice any one of the symptoms of a stroke. F.A.S.T helps us remember the tell-tale signs. These are 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  - time to call 999 if you see any one of these signs.

A stroke is caused by a bleed on the brain due to a burst blood vessel or by a blood clot which stops blood getting to the brain.

A transient ischaemic attack, is also known as a "mini-stroke" or "warning stroke". Symptoms of a mini stroke may include sudden loss of vision or blurred vision in one or both eyes; sudden weakness or numbness on one side of your body (including in your leg); sudden memory loss or confusion; sudden dizziness, unsteadiness or a sudden fall, especially with any of the other symptoms.

These symptoms may go away but one-in-twelve people will have a stroke within a week of having them so you should still call 999 if any of these symptoms occur.

Dr Marc Rowland, local GP and chair of NHS Lewisham CCG said: "A stroke is sudden usually painless. It is important to call an ambulance as soon as possible. Some people mistakenly think that they need to see two or more signs before calling 999 but they must make the call if they see just one of the symptoms. The quicker people are treated, the better their chances of recovery."

A specialist unit at King's College Hospital has been set up to treat all Lewisham and other local patients who have had a stroke. For information about Stroke and TIA services in Lewisham please click here.

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