Pharmacies promote stroke campaign

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Pharmacists across the Borders and beyond are joining the campaign to help people to recognise a stroke – and act ‘FAST’ to save lives.

From this week, posters will be displayed in the windows of over 1,200 pharmacies across Scotland to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of a stroke. Info cards, which alert people on what to watch out for and when to dial 999, will also be placed inside prescription bags for those receiving cardiovascular disease medication. The cards can then be stored in patients’ wallets.

The FAST message was developed by leading stroke physicians and focuses on how an attack affects the Face, Arms and Speech. The T represents time to call the emergency services.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: “The FAST campaign is designed to highlight the symptoms of stroke and emphasise that calling 999 as soon as possible if stroke symptoms are suspected could limit damage to the brain and the risk of disability.

“Stroke has long played a part in the premature death of too many Scots. The more people who can recognise the warning signs, and act FAST to get help, the better. Having pharmacists involved and targeting those most at risk of stroke will help to save lives.

“Between 1995 and 2010, we’ve seen a 60 per cent cut in the number of deaths from stroke among under 75s – against a 50 per cent target - that’s a tremendous achievement and with increased awareness of the warning signs we can continue improve.”

Ms Sturgeon also met Christine Quigg, 49, who has survived three brain haemorrhages, several seizures and a stroke which have left her with numbness in her left arm and leg and epilepsy.

However, the mother-of-one from Greenock remains “resolutely positive” and spends much of her time helping to run Stroke Matters Inverclyde, a support group for others with similar experiences and their carers. Christine said: “Many people have no idea how to recognise the symptoms of a stroke, so this FAST campaign will raise awareness and encourage everybody to treat stroke as a medical emergency.”

David Clark, Chief Executive of Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, said: “Stroke can happen to anyone at any age. Around 12,000 people every year have a stroke and are admitted to hospital in Scotland. The FAST campaign highlights that stroke is a medical emergency. You can’t see the damage it causes but emergency treatment can make all the difference to your chances of making the best possible recovery.”