Irish Heart Foundation encouraging local communities to ‘know the signs of stroke’

The Irish Heart Foundation is urging Westmeath people to know the signs of stroke and to be aware of the vital action to take in the event of witnessing one.

Research conducted nationally has found that only one in five people know the most important steps to take in the event of a stroke - with 43% unaware of any of the four key signs, new research shows.

And experts warn that the worrying figure of 41% of patients failing to get to hospital within 4.5 hours to receive thrombolysis (clot-busting treatment ), could be much higher.

There were 21 stroke or stroke-related deaths in Westmeath in 2020 ­– eight men and 13 women - according to Central Statistics Office data.

The Irish Heart Foundation voiced concern at the “shockingly low” awareness of stroke as a medical emergency as it launched a new Act F.A.S.T. campaign nationwide.

An Ipsos MRBI poll for the charity reveals that just 20% know the T stands for the importance of time to call 112 or 999.

“A high proportion of death, severe disability and misery for families caused by stroke in Ireland, could be avoided just by knowing what those four letters mean.

“Facial weakness (can the person smile and has their mouth or eye drooped? ), Arm weakness (can the person raise both arms? ), Speech problems (can the person speak clearly and understand you? ) and Time (call for an ambulance if you spot any one of these ).

“Stroke is one of the few conditions where your own actions will determine your outcome. Treatment has improved dramatically but doctors still rely on people getting to hospital as soon as possible after experiencing symptoms to give them the best possible chance of recovery.

“The average stroke destroys two million brain cells every minute – and it’s estimated that every 60 seconds saved between having a stroke to getting effective treatment, saves one week of healthy life for a patient.

“Unfortunately, the survey, conducted earlier this month, found that 43% do not know any of the F.A.S.T. signs and just 10% know them all, even though they are among the most vital signs,” Chris Macey, the Foundation’s Head of Advocacy, said.

Meanwhile, Mr Macey called for the urgent publication of the HSE’s long overdue National Stroke Strategy, which includes provision for a fully funded rolling annual F.A.S.T. campaign that will improve the recovery rate and reduce the cost of treating severe stroke.

An estimated 7,500 people in Ireland are hospitalised due to stroke each year, with younger age strokes becoming more prevalent, an average of 1 in 4 strokes affecting those under 65.

Visit irishheart.ie for more information on stroke.

 

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