Recognise symptoms – and then act fast

Stroke Association feature - staff at brighouse office
Stroke Association feature - staff at brighouse office
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THE NHS’s recent Act FAST television and radio adverts contributed to one of the most successful public health campaigns ever run in this country.

Their hard-hitting message taught people to recognise stroke symptoms and to treat them as a medical emergency. As a result the number of calls to 999 from people concerned about stroke rose by 50 per cent.

The campaign continues next week with more TV adverts due to be screened from February 27 urging people to be aware of the symptoms of stroke - facial weakness, arm weakness and speech problems - and to act fast to call 999.

In the Brighouse area 40 people a year suffer a stroke and there are around 600 people living locally with the effects of a stroke. Raising public awareness of the condition and helping sufferers and their loved ones cope with the aftermath are the priorities of staff at the Stroke Association’s Brighouse office at Owler Ings Road.

Also important is stroke prevention. High blood pressure is the single biggest cause of stroke and the association is working hard to encourage people at risk to stop smoking, eat healthily, lose excess weight and take exercise.

Three new services have recently been launched at the Brighouse office. Adrian Bateman is the stroke co-ordinator and he works with stroke survivors and their carers to identify their needs and help them achieve independence. He is hoping to set up a carers group in the near future.

Shamsul Arafen runs the stroke health awareness service which aims to help people at risk of stroke and educate the public about prevention.

He said: “We know that the number of younger people being affected by stroke is on the increase and we want to teach people about eating healthily and taking exercise. I work particularly closely with the Asian community where the high levels of salt in the diet can be a contributory factor.”

Heidi Gouldsbrough works with stroke survivors, providing emotional support, information and advice.

“It can be a huge shock when people have had a stroke and they suddenly have to adjust to not being able to do things they used to take for granted. There can be huge changes both physically and emotionally.

“A person can feel angry, isolated, depressed and anxious about the future. We work with stroke survivors and their families to make sure they are getting all the help and reassurance they need and help people get their confidence back.”

Stella Dower is volunteer co-ordinator and is keen to recruit people to help stroke survivors.

“Volunteers can make a real difference to people’s lives,” she said. “Their role is to get to know people who have had a stroke and help them towards their goals.”

l A stroke is a brain attack. It happens when the blood supply to the brain is disrupted by a blood clot or burst blood vessel.

l Someone in the UK has a stroke every five minutes.

l To find out more about the help available in the Brighouse area or to volunteer contact 01484 714147.