News Health

Thursday 18 September 2014

Act FAST to survive strokes say Fair City stars

Claire Mc Cormack

Published 06/08/2014 | 02:30

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Fair City duo Jim Bartley, who has experienced stroke in real life, and Tom Hopkins, who is currently battling stroke on-screen.

Fair City stars have drawn on personal and professional experience to stress the importance of acting quickly when a stroke occurs.

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Speaking at the launch of the Irish Heart Foundation's annual FAST awareness week, actors Tom Hopkins, currently battling the effects of a stroke on screen, and Jim Bartley, who suffered a real stroke in 2011, said knowing the symptoms was not enough.

"Think FAST - if you feel very definite first effects, in your face, arms or speech, you need to pick up the telephone," said Mr Bartley.

Known for his well-loved role as Bela Doyle, the 69-year-old said acting immediately was crucial to his recovery.

"I felt a strange numbness and my vision was blurred and my speech slurred, I called for help immediately," he said.

FAST is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke. Is the face drooping? Is there arm weakness? Is the speech slurred? If the answer is yes, then it's time to call for help.

Actor Tom Hopkins, who witnessed his own mother suffering mini-strokes, was recently thrust into the reality of the illness through his character on the RTE series.

"We know to look for facial weakness and slurred speech and I was able to draw on this knowledge with Christy, which is hopefully driving even more national awareness of stroke," he said.

Chris Macey, head of advocacy at the Irish Heart Foundation, said: "More sufferers could be spared from severe disability and long-term care if more people acted on the warning signs by calling 999."

The FAST awareness campaign runs from August 11-17.

Irish Independent

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