Please be alert to signs of stroke and act FAST during coronavirus outbreak

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Please be alert to signs of stroke and act FAST during coronavirus outbreak

Your NHS services in Buckinghamshire are asking you to please be alert to the symptoms of stroke in yourself and other people – and to Help Us Help You by urgently calling 999 to get the right treatment as quickly as possible.

There have been concerns that people may delay getting the help they need for serious, life-threatening conditions like stroke because they are worried about coronavirus or being a burden to NHS services. The number of hospital attendances for emergency treatment is down nationally from last year.

But time is a vital factor in treating stroke in patients – the sooner a patient gets medical help, the better their chances of recovery. If you suspect someone, or yourself, may be experiencing a stroke, you should call 999 immediately.

Wycombe Hospital’s specialist stroke unit was awarded an ‘A’ grade by the Stroke National Audit Programme run by the Royal College of Physicians, a rating given to around 1 in 5 units across the country.

Dr Matthew Burn, Stroke Consultant for Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Stroke is a genuine medical emergency, and people should never delay seeking urgent help if they suspect they or someone they know may be having a stroke.  If someone is showing signs – one side of their face drooping for example, arm weakness or slurred speech – you should call 999 and ask for an ambulance as soon as possible. Acting quickly saves lives.

“We understand that people may think twice about using hospital services during the coronavirus outbreak, and we have made lots of changes at Wycombe and Stoke Mandeville hospitals to greatly reduce any risk of infection and make sure everyone is treated as safely as possible. If you have any concerns about stroke please don’t hesitate to ask for help – we have an excellent stroke unit in Buckinghamshire and we want to make sure people who need it are using it. Please remember, your NHS services are here for you for more than just coronavirus.”

Dr Raj Thakkar, GP and Director for Planned Care at NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “GP practices and hospitals are now working in a way which means we can run life-saving tests at the same time as protecting patients and our own staff from Covid-19 using protective equipment. The risk of ignoring the early signs of a stroke can make a difference between being able to make a full recovery or living with serious disability or even death.”

More information about stroke can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/stroke

If you think someone is having a stroke, remember to think FAST:

  • Face – Their face may have dropped on one side
  • Arms – They may not be able to lift both arms because of weakness or numbness
  • Speech – Their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all
  • Time – It’s time to call 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms