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Quarter of people would not call 999 at the first signs of stroke


PHE launches its Act FAST campaign to remind people of the main symptoms of stroke and importance of calling 999 immediately.

Public Health England (PHE) today (2 February 2017) launches its annual Act FAST campaign to remind people of the main symptoms of stroke and the importance of calling 999 immediately if they notice any single one of the symptoms in themselves or others.

Stroke kills over 40,000 people a year and leaves around two-thirds of stroke survivors with a disability.

Research shows that 24% of people would wait to call an ambulance because they wrongly believe that they need to see 2 or more symptoms of stroke to be sure. Other barriers to dialling 999 include feeling that they need permission to act on behalf of others.

As part of the campaign, new films will encourage everyone – whether they are a stranger in the street, a family member at home or the person themselves – not to hesitate and make the call immediately when they see any of the main stroke symptoms:

  • 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?

Radio DJ Mark Goodier, who had a stroke last November, and TV presenter Anna Richardson, whose father had a stroke, tell their personal stories alongside people who have survived stroke – some who have recovered well and others who have been left with life-changing disabilities.

The stories show how disability can be greatly reduced if people react quickly to any of the signs of a stroke – urging people to act fast and call 999.

Professor Kevin Fenton, PHE’s National Director for Health and Wellbeing, said:

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

“It is crucial to Act FAST when you see any single one of the symptoms of stroke, and do not delay making that all-important 999 call.”

Dr Lasana Harris, Experimental and Social Psychologist, University College London, said:

“We always look to make sense of a situation and even if someone appears to be having a stroke we may worry about causing offence or mutual embarrassment. If no one else acts, then we ourselves may not see it as an emergency.

“However, the imagined consequences of action are minor compared to the consequences of inaction when someone is having a stroke. So act first and worry later.”

Juliet Bouverie, Chief Executive, Stroke Association said:

“We know people recognise the signs of stroke but they aren’t taking the right action at the right time. A stroke is a brain attack and acting fast makes a huge difference.

“You are more likely to survive a stroke and make a better recovery if you call 999 on spotting any one of the symptoms. The quicker you act the more of the person you save.”


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