September is Heart Health month. This year, the Irish Heart Foundation have focused their heart awareness campaign around the topic of ‘Let’s Strike Before Stroke’.

One in five people will have a stroke at some time in their life. Most are over 65, but stroke can strike at any age. Even young people and children can be affected. One in 4 strokes affect people under 65, which amounts to over 2,000 annually.

Luckily we know that strokes are very treatable and, if the right actions are taken quickly, the patient may not have any long term effects.

So, what is a stroke? A stroke occurs when a blood vessel, which is carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain, bursts or is blocked by a clot. This causes an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain which can damage or destroy brain cells which will affect body functions. A stroke is a medical emergency. Therefore, recognising the symptoms and accessing treatment immediately can be crucial.

A much publicised campaign regarding stroke has been the ‘When Stroke Strikes Act F.A.S.T.’
A simple test can help you recognise if someone has had a stroke:
Facial weakness – 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 – call 999 for an ambulance if you spot any one of these signs.

In the event of stroke, every minute counts. Don’t wait for the symptoms to go away. Early medical treatment can prevent further damage to the brain and reduce the likelihood of death and disability. It is also recommended, especially if you live in a rural area, to know your Eircode so that emergency services can find your home or workplace instantly.
You can view and share The Irish Heart Foundation’s Act F.A.S.T. awareness campaign advert here:`