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Public campaign has resulted in 4000 fewer people disabled by stroke

Act FAST is working, but people still unaware of need for prompt treatment, says Public Health England

Caroline White

Monday, 02 February 2015

Some 4,000 fewer people have become disabled as a result of its public campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of stroke, says Public Health England (PHE) as its annual Act FAST campaign gets under way today.

The Act FAST campaign, aims to draw attention to the common symptoms of stroke and mini strokes, in a bid to prompt those affected to dial 999 immediately.

This year’s campaign is highlighting the importance of mini stroke or TIA. Without immediate treatment, around 1 in 5 of those who experience a mini stroke will go on to have a full stroke within a few days.

Since the Act FAST campaign launched in 2009, an additional 38,600 have got to hospital within the vital 3-hour window, and over 4,000 fewer people have become disabled by their stroke, calculates PHE.

However, while over half (59%) of people surveyed cite stroke as one of the top three conditions they are concerned about, new research reveals today that less than half (45%) would call 999 if they experienced the symptoms of a mini stroke.

The campaign urges people to Act FAST if they notice any of the following symptoms, even if they disappear within a short space of time:

  • Face: has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms: can they raise both their arms and keep them there?
  • Speech: is their speech slurred?
  • Time: time to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs.

This year’s campaign will also specifically target African and Caribbean and South Asian communities with TV, radio and press advertising, as the evidence shows they are twice as likely to be at a risk of stroke.

There are around 152,000 strokes in the UK every year, and it is the leading cause of severe adult disability. Over 1.2 million people in the UK live with the effects of stroke.

Professor Julia Verne of PHE commented: “The impressive results from previous Act FAST campaigns show just how important it is that we continue to raise awareness of the symptoms of stroke.”

She went on: “Highlighting the importance of treating mini strokes with the same urgency as strokes can also make a huge difference: around 10,000 strokes could be prevented annually if mini strokes were treated in time.”

Nikki Hill, Deputy Director of External Affairs at the Stroke Association added: “We know that sadly, far too many people dismiss their early warning signs of stroke and delay calling 999. Stroke is a medical emergency and getting the right treatment fast can save lives.”

The Act FAST campaign will run nationally from 2 February to 1 March 2015. The campaign will consist of TV and Video on Demand advertising supported by digital search.

There are around 152,000 strokes in the UK every year and it is the leading cause of severe adult disability. There are over 1.2 million people in the UK living with the effects of stroke.

The Stroke Helpline: 0303 303 3100

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