How to reduce the risk of stroke
Our resources and information leaflets contain plenty of information and ways to reduce the risk of a stroke.
Our work on increasing the awareness of stroke risk factors includes:
Are you a healthcare professional? You can sign up to our Professionals network for further updates on our work around stroke prevention.
Our Know Your Blood Pressure campaign helps people to understand the link between high blood pressure and stroke, as well as their other stroke risk factors. We offer free blood pressure information and hold free blood pressure testing events across the UK. You can find out more here.
During 2018, we piloted a project which integrated mobile Atrial Fibrillation checks into our blood pressure events. The aim was to raise public awareness of Atrial Fibrillation and signpost anyone with possible AF to their GP. Following a successful pilot, we will roll this out nationally during 2019/2020.
Blood Pressure: How can we do better?
You can find out more about the state of hypertension care in England, and in each individual CCG, through 'BP: How can we do better?' resources.
These are available through the British Heart Foundation website and have been developed in partnership with the Stroke Association, British and Irish Hypertension Society, Blood Pressure UK, Public Health England and the Royal College of General Practitioners.
FAST - a stroke specialist's perspective
The “Face-Arm-Speech-Time” test has been instrumental in raising public awareness to dial 999 and call for urgent help if someone is suspected of having a stroke. Its simple and powerful message and images have been really successful in increasing the number of patients admitted to hospital quickly – about 60% of stroke patients now arrive at hospital within four hours. But there’s work to do. Only by repeating and re-enforcing the message can we do better still.
Why is it so important?
85% of strokes are caused by a blocked blood vessel and for every minute the vessel remains blocked 1.9 million neurones die. In other words, the longer the vessel remains blocked, the greater the likelihood of more severe brain injury and subsequent neurological disability.
Clot busting treatments such as intravenous thrombolysis and mechanical thrombectomy are very effective treatments at opening up cerebral blood vessels, restoring blood flow and limiting neuronal damage.
15% of strokes are caused by bleeding into the brain and are usually due to a ruptured blood vessel. Lowering the blood pressure quickly limits further bleeding and rapid neurosurgery can be lifesaving in some patients.
The earlier these treatments can be delivered the better – ideally within 90 minutes of symptoms starting and within an hour of a patient arriving in hospital. Indeed 20% more patients will be completely independent at 3 months if treated within 90 minutes, compared with 10% at 180 minutes and 7% at 270 minutes.
- Dr Richard Marigold, Consultant Stroke Physician, University Hospital Southampton
FAST - The real impact
Mr G, 72, had been out for dinner when he suddenly felt light-headed, then his face, arm and leg went heavy and weak and he had developed slurred speech. His wife recognised symptoms from the FAST campaign, called 999, and he was taken into hospital. He had a CT scan within 30 minutes and was given clot busting treatment 1 hour and 8 minutes after his symptoms started. The following morning his speech was normal, he could stand and had good use of his right arm and hand. 48 hours later he had completely recovered and at a clinic appointment three months later he explained that he was regularly walking five miles a day.
Atrial Fibrillation (AF) and stroke
The risk of stroke increases five-fold for people with the condition and it contributes to one in five strokes in the UK. It is therefore essential that AF is better detected, diagnosed and treated.
AF-related strokes are often more severe with higher mortality and greater disability. Treatment with an anticoagulant significantly reduces the risk of stroke in people with AF.
Our aim is to reduce the number of preventable/avoidable AF related strokes. Take a look at the range of AF resources here and help us achieve our goal.