FAST action saves lives from stroke in NSW

Frontline health workers and everyday people in New South Wales, who act F.A.S.T. when stroke strikes, are being celebrated this National Stroke Week, which starts today (Aug 2-8).

Stroke Foundation New South Wales State Manager Rhian Paton-Kelly said when these groups work together, lives can be saved and disability from stroke can be reduced.

“This National Stroke Week, I want to thank every person who plays a role in a stroke emergency,” Ms Paton-Kelly said.

“That includes the person who recognises a stroke and calls triple zero (000), to the call taker, the paramedics, the doctors and nurses who treat the patient and the dedicated health professionals who support their recovery.

“These individuals are all “United by Stroke”, which is the theme of National Stroke Week. They all make an incredible difference to lives and improve outcomes for the future.”

Stroke attacks the brain, the human control centre. It is estimated almost 9,000 people will have a stroke for the first time in New South Wales this year.

When a stroke happens, more than 1.9 million brain cells die each minute, but time-critical treatment can stop this damage.

New South Wales residents are being urged to learn and share the most common signs of stroke, F.A.S.T., this National Stroke Week. Think of the word F.A.S.T. and ask these questions if you suspect a stroke:

Face – Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?

Arms – Can they lift both arms?

Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?

Time – Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call triple zero (000) straight away.

Stroke Foundation wants at least one person in every household and workplace in Australia to know the F.A.S.T. signs of stroke and understand they need to call triple zero (000) at the first sign – no matter how long it lasts.

“This National Stroke Week be united by stroke by sharing the F.A.S.T message with your family and friends. You could save a life – possibly your own,” Ms Paton-Kelly said.

“It’s simple. Acting F.A.S.T. can save lives. Time saved equals brain saved. We can have the best health professionals and treatments, but you must get to hospital first to access them. Time saved equals brain saved.”

Stroke Foundation is also seeing a difference being made through the NSW Telestroke Service (Telestroke), which is improving health outcomes for stroke patients in regional and rural NSW.

Launched in March 2020, Telestroke provides access to lifesaving stroke diagnosis and treatment, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It does this by connecting local doctors to specialist stroke physicians via video consultation in the emergency department, enabling patients to receive specialist care closer to home.

Twelve hospitals across regional and rural NSW have already connected to the service, which will expand to up to 23 sites by June 2022.

Telestroke is hosted by Prince of Wales Hospital and is a collaboration with eHealth NSW, the Agency for Clinical Innovation and the NSW Ministry of Health. Stroke Foundation is helping NSW Health organisations to raise awareness of Telestroke as it rolls out across the state.

There are also a number of general screening tests available in NSW to manage the risk of stroke and detect symptoms early, including the Stroke Risk Assessment and Blood Pressure Evaluation, available at Blooms The Chemist pharmacy and your GP.

John and his dog

John Duenzl, Newcastle, 39

John suffered a stroke while swimming in the ocean on a family holiday in 2019.

When the active dad suddenly lost control of his body, he screamed for help and his wife and some kind strangers dragged him from the water, put him on the sand and called triple zero (000).

He arrived at hospital quickly for treatment and is recovery well. He can do activities he loves again like skateboarding and surfing.

Most strokes display one or more of the F.A.S.T signs. Other signs here. F.A.S.T. resources are also available in Greek, Italian, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Arabic, Cantonese, Hindi and Korean.

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