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One in five people will suffer a stroke

ONE in five people will have a stroke in their lifetime and it can happen at any age.

Research from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) in 2011, revealed that the Irish Heart Foundation's Act FAST campaign increased awareness of stroke symptoms by 124pc across the Irish population. Since the FAST campaign, the thrombolysis rate in Ireland has increased by 500pc. The foundation estimates this saves an extra 150 people a year from death or severe disability.

According to Chris Macey, of the Irish Heart Foundation, being able to recognise the signs of stroke and calling 999 is crucial to saving lives from death and disability caused by stroke.

"Our FAST campaign saw an 87pc increase in the number of stroke-related admissions to hospital in 2011," he says. "However, the gains made by the Act FAST campaign to date could easily be lost. The RCSI research showed that in a matter of weeks after major bursts of campaign activity, stroke admission rates were falling back to normal levels. Unless people remain motivated to act FAST, then our efforts will have no long-term impact."

This month, keep an eye out for Irish Heart Foundation campaigners spreading the life-saving message and handing out literature. To learn more, see www.stroke.ie or to organise your own FAST campaign call 01 668 5001.