Time is of the essence if somebody’s had a stroke

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STEVE CANAVAN: Making a molehill out of Malcolm, my very minor ailment

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Just like the television advertisements advise, Avril West didn’t delay when husband Harry told her he’d lost feeling on the right side of his body.

She called 999 straight away and an ambulance had arrived at their home in Hilsea within four minutes.

Just 16 minutes later and Mr West was being treated in a specialist stroke unit at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.

Mr West, who is now thankfully on the road to recovery, is absolutely right to want to praise the paramedics and hospital staff whose speedy response meant he was able to receive the best possible care at the right time.

But he also has his wife to thank for having the presence of mind to dial 999 immediately.

As the QA’s lead stroke consultant Dr David Jarrett says: ‘The longer you leave it after a stroke, then the more chances you have of brain problems developing and having a slower recovery.’

We’re pleased to tell Mr West’s story today because we think it really brings home just how important it is to get medical help straight away.

It also underlines how quickly speech problems or paralysis on the side of the body can happen to those who suffer a stroke.

People who are unsure what to do in such circumstances, or who may not recognise the symptoms of a stroke, should certainly learn from what happened to Mr and Mrs West.

He recalls: ‘I woke up and was very puzzled that I couldn’t move my limbs – it felt like they weighed a tonne.’

It was a telltale sign and Mrs West was absolutely right to summon assistance.

We also urge people to pay attention to the Department of Health’s Act Fast campaign that aims to increase awareness and understanding of how to identify the signs when somebody has had a stroke.

We all need to be watchful for the classic indications of a stroke, from facial and arm weakness to speech problems.

If they happen, then get on the phone and dial 999 without delay. Because that prompt action could make a crucial difference.