12/11/2015 10:16 GMT | Updated 11/11/2016 05:12 GMT

Every Minute Counts: Act FAST to Save Lives

Philippa, 48, had a major stroke at home last year. Her 16-year-old daughter Beth had seen an Act FAST advert on TV and recognised the signs straight away, calling to her father to ring for an ambulance.

Philippa lost most of the movement in the left side of her body, some of which she has regained by working with a personal trainer. The fact that she was able to receive treatment within two hours of her stroke prevented it from causing even more damage.

Stroke is the third largest cause of death in England and can have devastating consequences for those that survive it.

Many people think of stroke as something that affects older people, yet while the majority of people who have strokes are over 55, it can happen to anyone. Conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure can increase the risk, and not smoking is one of the best ways of reducing it.


A stroke is an attack that happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off. This may be caused by a clot, or by bleeding in the brain. When a person has a stroke, they lose 2 million nerve cells for every minute that they don't receive medical treatment.

These nerve cells are the core components of your brain, spinal cord and central nervous system - the more a person loses during a stroke, the greater the chance of slurred speech, paralysis and permanent disability.

Each year, there are 110,000 strokes in England. Currently, over half of all stroke survivors have a disability and more than a third are left dependent on others for everyday activities such as getting dressed, or climbing the stairs.

A stroke can affect the way a person's body works, such as walking, talking, speech and balance, and it may also affect the way they communicate, how they feel and how they behave.

There is plenty of help available, but recovery can involve a lengthy process of rehabilitation.

However, the quicker that stroke is diagnosed and treated, the better the recovery will be. So it's vital that people can recognise the symptoms of stroke and know what to do when they see them. Being aware of the early signs can help save lives and reduce the impact that stroke can have.

Recognising the signs

The symptoms of stroke can often be mistaken as a 'funny turn', and people may delay calling 999. However, stroke is a medical emergency, and it's essential to get the right treatment, fast. That's why it's so important to be able to identify the early signs of stroke by using the FAST test:

• Face - has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?

• Arms - can they raise both their arms and keep them there?

• Speech - is their speech slurred? If they notice any of these symptoms it is:

• Time - time to call 999 if you see ANY of these signs.

By using this simple test, you could save someone's life, or help them to make a better recovery.

Recently a new film was launched urging people to call 999 immediately if they spot signs of stroke. The film shows the difference that acting fast can make to a person's recovery after stroke, and the potential effects of delaying that 999 call.

The film is part of the Act FAST campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of stroke and encourage people to call 999 if they spot any of these signs.

Since the campaign launched in 2009, an additional 41,382 people who have had a stroke have been admitted to hospital within three hours - meaning they get the immediate medical treatment they need for a greater chance of a better recovery. In this period, the number of people who have become disabled as a result of stroke is estimated to have decreased by more than 4,600.

With 110,000 strokes every year in England, we need to make more people aware of the symptoms so that, if needed, they too can Act FAST - and save lives. Every minute really does count.