What to do if the worst happens

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WHAT IS A STROKE?

A stroke is an attack on the brain.

For your brain to function, it needs a constant blood supply, which provides vital nutrients and oxygen to the cells. A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off and brain cells are damaged or die.

WHAT EFFECTS CAN THEY HAVE?

A stroke is sudden and has an immediate effect.

A person may become numb, weak or paralysed on one side of the body.

They may slur their speech and find it difficult to find words or understand speech.

Some people lose their sight or have blurred vision, and others become confused or unsteady.

CAN PEOPLE RECOVER FROM A STROKE?

Yes. About a third of people who have a stroke make a significant recovery within a month.

But most stroke survivors will have long-term problems.

It may take a year or longer for them to make the best possible recovery.

But in the most severe cases, strokes can be fatal or cause long-term disability.

HOW CAN I RECOGNISE

A STROKE?

You can recognise a stroke using the FAST test.

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 to call 999.

If a person fails any one of these tests, get help immediately by dialling 999

A speedy response can help reduce the damage to a person’s brain and improve their chances of a full recovery. A delay in getting help can result in death or long-term disabilities.

WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?

Don’t ignore temporary symptoms

If symptoms disappear within 24 hours, the person may have had a Transient ischaemic attack (TIA), which is also called a mini-stroke.

A TIA is still a medical emergency, because it can lead to a major stroke.