‘Shocking low’ awareness of what to do in the event of stroke

Irish Heart Foundation promotes ‘Fast’ - Facial, Arms, Speech and Time acronym

There is a “shocking low” awareness of what to do in the event of a stroke, the Irish Heart Foundation has said.

There is a “shocking low” awareness of what to do in the event of a stroke, the Irish Heart Foundation has said.

 

There is a “shocking low” awareness of what to do in the event of a stroke, the Irish Heart Foundation has said.

Just one in five people knew the most vital action to take in the event of a stroke – with 43 percent unaware of any of the four key warning signs, according to the foundation’s latest research.

In addition, health experts warned the figure of 41 per cent, for patients who failed to get to hospital within 4.5 hours to receive thrombolysis or clot-busting treatment, could be much higher.

The Irish Heart Foundation has now launched an Act Fast campaign ahead of World Stroke Day on Friday.

“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,” said Chris Macey, the Foundation’s Head of Advocacy.

“Facial weakness – can the person smile and has their mouth or eye drooped – and arm weakness – can the person raise both arms – as well as speech problems – can the person speak clearly and understand you – and time – were key elements of the acronym “Fast”. Put simply they are, Facial; Arms; Speech and Time to get to hospital.

“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” said Mr Macey.

“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” he said.

Broadcaster Mark Cagney, who suffered a stroke in January, is backing the campaign to raise awareness of the key time factor.

“It’s like having a first aid box at home – it’s just one of those things that you should know because a stroke could happen to anyone,” said the former Ireland AM host, who has returned to work on Newstalk radio.

The father-of-four said he had to choose whether to “go on or go under” and is urging the public to become as familiar with the acronym Fast, as they are with the alphabet or counting.

An estimated 7,500 people in Ireland are hospitalised due to stroke each year. Further information on strokes is available at irishheart.ie