Acting quickly improves stroke recovery chances

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When Alister Davis tried talking to his family but couldn’t make out his own slurred words, he knew something wasn’t right.

“I knew they wouldn’t understand it cause I didn’t understand what I had said,” he said.

Mr Davis had suffered from a stroke.

Alister’s daughter tested the strength in both arms and found one side to be weak and then rang 111.

The family were on holiday in Hamilton, so Mr Davis was admitted to Waikato Hospital, where he spent five days in the acute stroke unit.

Two years on, Mr Davis now volunteers for Oamaru Stroke Support and hopes to educate people on the symptoms of a stroke so people can avoid major damage.

“I had a fairly good recovery,” he said.

“When I’m tired, my speech may slur a little bit.”

Had Mr Davis not reacted as quickly as he did, the outcome could have been a lot different.

A stroke is a sudden interruption of blood flow to the brain, causing brain cell damage.

This week is Stroke Awareness Week and the foundation is focusing on the FAST stroke recognition message.

Mr Davis said if someone shows even one sign of a stroke, don’t hesitate to ring 111.

North Otago’s community stroke advisor Debbie Huls said it’s a shame that the number of people who don’t recognise symptoms and seek medical help is so high.

Mr Davis admits, had his daughter not recognised the signs of a stroke, he probably would have made a cup of tea and sat down until he felt better.

FAST stands for face, arms, speech and time.

Only about 1 in 10 people can correctly identify three signs of stroke.

“We need to change that to make sure that as many people as possible with stroke reach hospital in time to be assessed and receive potentially lifesaving treatment,” said Mrs Huls.

The local street appeal is taking place this Thursday.

People in the North Otago region wanting stroke information, or help and support, can contact Mrs Huls on 4340247or north.otago@stroke.org.nz.

FAST

Face – Look at the person’s face and ask them to try and smile; is one side drooping?

Arms – Ask them to raise both arms; is one side weak?

Speech – Ask them to say something simple; are they unable to speak or are the words jumbled or slurred?

Time – Time to act fast and call 111. Time lost may mean brain lost.