Published date
Wednesday, 11 February, 2015

Susan Butcher had a stroke in 2012 and is supporting a new campaign from the Stroke Association which aims to reduce the number of strokes across Wales.​ 

Three specific risk factors put people at an increased risk of having a stroke.  The 'Lower Your Risk of Stroke' campaign will get to grips with the number of strokes caused by high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation (AF) and Transient Ischaemic Attacks (TIA), also known as mini strokes or 'funny turns'.

"We are asking people to do three simple things. Get their blood pressure checked on an annual basis, check their pulse for any irregularity and lastly seek urgent medical attention should they experience stroke symptoms. By taking action on these three things, we could reduce the number of strokes across Wales by up to 50%."
Ana Palazon, Director Cymru of the Stroke Association

Susan, 48, from Wrexham, had a stroke because of a TIA in 2012. At the time she was working in the community, often with stroke survivors. Susan had been having a headache for several days before her TIA.

While with a client Susan lost vision in her right eye and became dizzy. The hospital couldn’t find anything wrong on her scans and sent her home with medication for a migraine. Over three days she continued to feel sick and experienced vision loss in one eye.

"The ophthalmologist believed I’d had a bleed on my brain and I was referred to the TIA clinic. I knew something wasn’t right and I needed to be seen quickly but I was told the next appointment wasn’t for a week. I insisted it was urgent and managed to get an appointment for 2pm. By 12.30 it was too late. I was having a stroke."
Susan Butcher, stroke survivor

Susan was with her mother and a friend when she suddenly experienced weakness down one side and a loud ringing in her ear.

"I’ve been kicking myself because a part of me knew it was urgent from my experience of working with stroke survivors but there isn’t enough awareness around TIA."
Susan Butcher, stroke survivor

TIA happens when the brain’s blood supply is interrupted for a short time only.  Symptoms are the same as stroke, but they are temporary.  Often, people dismiss the symptoms of a TIA as a 'funny turn', however doing so could endanger life as TIA is a contributory factor for 21% of all strokes.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure accounts for up to 40% of all strokes. The third risk factor is AF which is the most common heart disorder in Wales.  Those with AF are five times more likely to have a stroke and AF strokes are more likely to lead to death or leave the sufferer with high levels of disability.

The Stroke Association is working with Public Health Wales, Community Pharmacy Wales and the seven health board’s across Wales to raise awareness across the whole population.  The focus of the campaign will be asking members of the public to take responsibility for regularly checking their pulse and blood pressure and making sure they act when they suspect an irregularity or experience stroke symptoms.

"All stroke symptoms should be treated seriously, no matter how quickly they pass. People should look out for facial weakness or drooping, loss of mobility down one side or problems with speech. The Act FAST message is vitally important, as the sooner people get medical help, the better their outcomes and the lesser their disability. Don’t ignore funny turns, get to hospital."
Ana Palazon, Director Cymru of the Stroke Association

As part of the integrated campaign, all Community Pharmacies will be offering a quiz to reinforce the importance of a blood pressure and pulse checks and to remind them of the FAST message. Those who are on medication for either high blood pressure or AF will also be given stroke awareness advice and told how important it is to have a medicines usage review on a regular basis.

"It really is so important to get your blood pressure checked on an annual basis, check your pulse for any irregularity and seek urgent medical attention should you experience any stroke symptoms. I urge everyone to take notice of these three simple actions."
Susan Butcher, stroke survivor

For more information about the campaign, please visit or follow us on twitter @StrokeWales and Facebook 'Stroke Association Wales' and follow #StrokeRisk. If stroke has affected you or a family please call our helpline on 0303 3033 100. 

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