Wednesday, May 14, 2008

National stroke awareness day - spread the message.


What is FAST?


FAST requires an assessment of three specific symptoms of stroke.


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?

Test all three symptoms


If the person has failed any one of these tests, you must call 999. Stroke is a medical emergency and by calling 999 you can help someone reach hospital quickly and receive the early treatment they need. Prompt action can prevent further damage to the brain and help someone make a full recovery. Delay can result in death or major long-term disabilities, such as paralysis, severe memory loss and communication problems.


What if the symptoms go away?

A Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA), which is sometimes called a mini stroke, is similar to a full stroke but the symptoms may only last a few minutes and will have completely gone within 24 hours. Don't ignore it. It could lead to a major stroke. See your GP as soon as possible and ask to be referred to a specialist stroke service. This should happen within seven days.

Healthy eating


Here are some tips on how to eat healthily and reduce your risk of stroke


  • Snack on fruit and vegetables: Don’t fill up on junk food. Instead, eat as much fresh fruit, vegetables and dried fruit as you like.


  • Aim for at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. A portion is about 80 grams (3 ounces) – for example, an apple, an orange or a glass of orange juice, a large carrot, two broccoli florets, a handful of grapes or three tablespoons of peas.


  • Choose low-fat proteins. Don’t eat too much red meat – choose fish, poultry (with the skin removed), game or vegetarian alternatives instead. Most red meat is high in saturated fat, which contributes to the arteries furring up.


  • Reduce your salt intake. Salt raises blood pressure. Don’t add salt to your food and avoid processed foods which contain a lot of salt.


  • Eat more fibre. Foods high in fibre help control blood fat levels. Try wholegrain cereals, porridge, brown rice, whole-wheat bread and pasta, and grains such as couscous.


  • Limit the amount of fat you eat. You need some fat in your diet, but too much can clog up your arteries and add to weight problems. Try to limit the amount you use and stick to vegetable, seed and nut oils rather than margarine and butter.


The main food groups


Choose a variety of food from the main food groups:


  • fruit and vegetables
  • bread, cereals, pasta and potatoes
  • meat, fish and protein alternatives
  • dairy food such as milk, cheese and yoghurt
fats and oils (but don’t eat too much of these).

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