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