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Act F.A.S.T to save lives

The quicker people get help for someone who has had a suspected stroke, the better their chance of recovery, say GPs in Lambeth.

Stroke is now one of the biggest killers in UK and one of the largest causes of disability among those who survive.

Residents in (add borough) are urged to call 999 without delay if they notice any one of the symptoms of a stroke. F.A.S.T is helps us remember the tell-tale signs. These are Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile? Arms - can they raise both arms and keep them there?  Speech – is their speech slurred? Time  - time to call 999 if you see any one of these signs.

Age is the single biggest risk factor for stroke with the risk doubling every ten years after the age of 55. People of South Asian, African or Caribbean background are also more likely to have a stroke then other people in the UK.

A stroke is caused by a bleed on the brain due to a burst blood vessel or by a blood clot which stops blood getting to the brain.

A transient ischaemic attack, is also known as a "mini-stroke" or "warning stroke". Symptoms of a mini stroke may include sudden loss of vision or blurred vision in one or both eyes; sudden weakness or numbness on one side of your body (including in your leg); sudden memory loss or confusion; sudden dizziness, unsteadiness or a sudden fall, especially with any of the other symptoms.

These symptoms may go away but one-in-twelve people will have a stroke within a week of having them so you should still call 999 if any of these symptoms occur.

Dr Adrian McLachlan, local GP and Chair of NHS Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "A stroke is sudden and it is important to call an ambulance as soon as possible. Some people mistakenly think that they need to see two or more signs before calling 999 but they must make the call if they see just one of the symptoms. The quicker people are treated, the better their chances of recovery."

Advice on how to reduce your risk is available from the Stroke Association.

Information for carers is available on NHS Choices.