Stroke survivor spreads the message about acting FAST

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A Hastings woman who survived a stroke has joined forces with the Stroke Association in calling for people to be more aware of the early warning signs of stroke, and to share the FAST message to help save more lives.

The FAST Test identifies the three most common symptoms of a stroke and the right action to take:

· FACE: Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?

· ARM weakness: Can the person raise both arms?

· SPEECH problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?

· TIME to call 999

Carolyn McCartney, 57, from Hastings survived a stroke in 2014 and is now spreading the word about recognising FAST Test symptoms.

On the day of her stroke, Carolyn was getting ready to leave the house with her brother when she suddenly heard a loud bang in her head.

This instantly brought on a very painful headache so she decided to lay down for moment.

Carolyn got up to go to the toilet and realised she couldn’t pull down her trousers or sit on the toilet.

At this point Carolyn realised she was having a stroke, and managed to walk into the living room to tell her brother.

Carolyn said: “As soon as I lost all feeling down the right side of my body, I just knew.

“I can’t even explain the overwhelming sense of certainty I had at the time. I’d never thought about stroke before, but somewhere in my mind was the knowledge that this was a stroke.

“I spent eight days in hospital and thankfully I have made a really good recovery.

“The Stroke Association visited me and helped me get to grips with what had happened.

“Even though I didn’t have all the FAST symptoms, just the one was enough to make me realise.

“I’d tell anyone who thinks they may be having a stroke to act FAST and get help immediately.”

A stroke is a brain attack which happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, caused by a clot or bleeding in the brain.

There are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK each year - around one stroke every five minutes.

There are currently more than 1.2 million people in the UK living with the effects of stroke.

Sandra Field, regional director for the Stroke Association in the South East, said: “Having a stroke is devastating.

“It can happen to anyone, of any age, at any time.

“Every second counts when you are having a stroke, so recognising the signs and calling 999 for an ambulance is crucial.

“A stroke is a medical emergency – as serious as a heart attack, so you need to seek immediate medical help.

“The quicker a person arrives at a specialist stroke unit, the quicker they will receive appropriate treatment to minimise the impact of their stroke.

“We want more people in the South East Coast to learn the FAST test and share it with their friends and family to help others to save lives, and improve the chance of a better recovery for those who experience stroke.”

To find out more about the FAST campaign, and to view information and support available, visit www.stroke.org.uk/FAST.

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