Stroke patient encourages others to act FAST
Tuesday 10th March, 2009
A woman who became the third person in Mid Sussex to receive a life saving drug after she had a stroke, is supporting a national campaign to raise awareness about the deadly disease.
Stroke is the third biggest killer in the country, and the single largest cause of disability. Each year, an estimated 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke, leading to more than 67,000 deaths.
Last year, Diane Miles, who’s 56 and from Nutley, was sitting at home at her computer when she suffered a stroke. Realising something was wrong, Mrs Miles called a friend who immediately identified she was suffering a stroke and called 999.
Mrs Miles was diagnosed quickly at the scene of the emergency by South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust paramedics, and taken to the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath to receive thrombolysis treatment.
An injection of the drug cleared the blood clot in her brain, reducing the potential damage the stroke could have caused. The treatment can save lives and prevent disability, but does have to be administered within three hours of a stroke occurring.
The thrombolysis service has been running at the Princess Royal Hospital for the last six months, and to date has treated four people suffering a stroke.
There are also thrombolysis services running at St Richards Hospital in Chichester and Worthing Hospital.
Mrs Miles said the care she received from the specialist service was brilliant. “Everyone was so good and looked after me very well. From the moment my right hand started feeling peculiar at home, to calling 999 to arriving in hospital - everything happened so quickly, but all the doctors and nurses made sure I knew what was happening and that I was happy with it.”
Recently, the government launched a three year campaign to encourage more people to be aware of stroke and its symptoms. It highlights the warning signs and urges people to think ‘FAST’ – Face, Arm, Speech, Time to call 999 - if they suspect somebody is having an attack.
Nationally at the moment, only 42% of patients currently receive a brain scan within 24 hours to confirm their diagnosis and only 62% are treated on a dedicated stroke unit. Considering that, the Royal College of Physicians has estimated that thousands of lives could be saved if patients were admitted straight to stroke units and 4,500 people could escape disability if they received thrombolysis treatment.
Mrs Miles is now supporting the government campaign and calling for everyone to learn more about stroke so they can act quickly.
Mrs Miles said: “I know I am very lucky, and I know I am not as bad as I could have been. My recovery is definitely down to how quickly, and how well, I was treated. You know something is not right as soon as it’s happening, so everyone needs to be prepared to act fast. The speed you act is so important and the time you take to get to hospital really does make all the difference.”
Joanne Brigden, Stroke Coordinator at Princess Royal Hospital, said: “Unfortunately not enough people know that thrombolysis treatment is available in the county, and that you have to act quickly to give yourself the best chance to be eligible. Because of this I would encourage everyone to find out more about stroke and its symptoms.
“Fast access and specialist treatment is so important. Early access to the stroke service, even when thrombolysis is not available, can improve a person's recovery by ensuring they get the correct diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible.”
David Davis, Paramedic Stroke Lead and Clinical Pathways Co-ordinator at South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust (SECAmb), said: “This campaign is vital in order to raise the profile of stroke which is a serious life-threatening condition. We need the public to be aware of the simple FAST test and act quickly by calling 999 if they see any one of the signs of a stroke.”