Stroke Campaign Launches

Act FAST campaign

A stroke campaign has launched in the East of England as new figures show a larger proportion of strokes in middle age adults.

Public Health England (PHE) today launches the Act F.A.S.T. stroke campaign in the East of England which urges the public to call 999 if they notice even one of the signs of a stroke in themselves, or in others.

Current figures reveal over 111,000 people on GP registers in the East of England have had a stroke and in 2016, 3,000 died from a stroke. While the majority of strokes happen to those over 70, a larger proportion of strokes are occurring in middle age adults (40 - 69 years). Timely treatment can reduce the risk of disability and death.

The F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) acronym has featured in the advertising for a number of years and is a simple test to help people identify the most common signs of a stroke:

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

In England, one in six people will have a stroke in their lifetime. Current figures show there are over 111,193 people on GP registers in the East of England who have had a stroke and in 2016 3,444 people died from a stroke. It is estimated that around 30% of people who have a stroke will experience another stroke.

Stroke is the third most common cause of premature death and a leading cause of disability in the UK. There are around 32,000 stroke related deaths in England each year. Deaths related to stroke have declined by 49% in the past 15 years. This has been accredited to a combination of better prevention, earlier treatment and more advanced treatment. Getting an NHS Health Check, for those aged 40-74 years, can identify early if you are at risk of a stroke.

While the majority (59%) of strokes occur in the older generation, PHE's figures also found that over a third (38%) of first time strokes happen in middle aged adults (between the ages of 40 - 69). More first time strokes are now occurring at an earlier age compared to a decade ago. The average age for males having a stroke fell from 71 to 68 years and for females, 75 to 73 years between 2007 and 2016.

Barbara Paterson, Deputy Director of Health and Wellbeing at PHE East of England said:

"Stroke is still one of the leading causes of death in the country, and the faster someone gets emergency treatment, the more chance that person has of surviving and avoiding serious disability.

"While it is often associated with older people, new research shows people are having strokes at a younger age. So, everyone needs to be aware of the signs and act quickly."

The Stroke Association's latest State of the Nation report reveals that in the UK almost two thirds (65%) of stroke survivors leave hospital with a disability. Around three quarters of stroke survivors have arm or leg weakness, around 60% have visual problems and around a half have difficulty swallowing and loss of bladder control. Communication is also affected in around a third of stroke survivors.

Awareness is crucial, so the campaign reaches out to people of all ages to highlight the risk of stroke and reiterates the signs and how vital it is that people call 999 and get to hospital as soon as possible. Around 1.9 million nerve cells in the brain are lost every minute that a stroke is left untreated, which can result in slurred speech and paralysis. If left untreated, a stroke can result in permanent disability or death.