Call to raise stroke awareness as charity suggests fewer people are seeking medical attention

Calls for greater stroke awareness have been made as fewer people are seeking urgent medical attention when they experience circulatory disease symptoms, Scotland’s leading stroke charity has claimed.

Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS) said people are at risk of severe long-term poor health or even death due to the “indirect” effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The charity’s recent data shows 21% of people say they would avoid contacting their GP at the moment.

The data showed emergency hospital admissions are also still lower than average – currently at 88% of pre-covid levels – and A&E attendance remains at 91% of pre-pandemic figures.

CHSS said last year saw 470 excess deaths from heart disease and stroke, with a large increase in the numbers dying at home instead of hospital.

The charity’s figures come amid an ongoing inquiry by the Scottish Parliament into excess deaths in Scotland since the start of the pandemic.

Director at CHSS, Lawrence Cowan, is due to give evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Covid-19 Recovery Committee on Thursday where he will talk about the charity’s research showing the rise in numbers of those dying from stroke and heart disease.

He said: “Strokes devastate lives every day.

“We’re worried that the impacts of the pandemic have created a perfect storm that could see more lives lost and more people’s lives changed forever.

“People have thought twice about seeking medical help either due to the risk of Covid or service pressures.

“High levels of isolation and loneliness and the pandemic’s impact on our diets and exercise levels will also likely see stroke risk increase.”

CHSS has voiced frequent concerns about the long-term implications of the pandemic on people’s health and the future pressures on the NHS.

It is calling for the revival of the Fast campaign, which encourages early recognition of the early signs of stroke.

Fast is a simple acronym standing for:

  • Face: Can they smile? Does one side droop?
  • Arm: Can they lift both arms? Is one weak?
  • Speech: Is their speech slurred or muddled?
  • Time: Time to call 999.

Mr Cowan added: “We need a new Fast campaign to remove any hesitancy around stroke. It is an emergency and needs to be treated quickly.

“Quick action is vital when someone has a stroke.

“Clot-busting treatments such as thrombolysis and thrombectomy can make a huge difference to someone’s recovery, but they can only be administered in the first few hours immediately after a stroke happens.”

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