Wales

Stroke campaign by pharmacists to cut number of victims

Pharmacy
Image caption Strokes are the fourth biggest killer in Wales after cardiovascular illness, cancer and respiratory disease

Pharmacists are leading a campaign to cut the number of people who suffer a stroke by reviewing their medicine use.

About 11,000 people have a stroke each year in Wales, making it the fourth biggest health killer.

Pharmacy customers with high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation (AF) will be reminded to control their conditions as they are at a high risk.

Health Minister Mark Drakeford has backed the campaign being run by groups including the Stroke Association.

Public Health Wales chair Prof Mansel Aylward said: "Stroke is a massive killer in Wales. If people act fast and learn to recognise the signs, they can significantly increase their chance of survival."

Specialists say there are many risk factors, but almost 40% of strokes due to blood clots are caused by high blood pressure and those with AF are five times more likely to have a stroke.

Clots that block the blood supply prevent the flow of oxygen and sugar to brain cells, which then rapidly die.

During the campaign, pharmacy visitors will also be given advice regarding F.A.S.T, the stroke recognition test.

  • Face - Has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms - Can they lift both arms and keep them there?
  • Speech - Is their speech slurred?
  • Time - Time to call 999

Strokes are the fourth biggest killer after cardiovascular conditions, cancers and respiratory disease.

The health minister will launch the public health campaign later this week although it starts on Wednesday across Wales' 700 community pharmacies.

"I strongly support this campaign and urge as many people as possible during May to visit their local pharmacy to find out their risk of stroke," said Mr Drakeford.

Ana Palazon, director for the Stroke Association in Wales, said: "This campaign should also serve as a reminder to those who have a high risk of stroke in their family to get their blood pressure taken on a regular basis to ensure that they too are given proper medical treatment should the need arise."

Meanwhile the Stroke Association is calling for more priority in treating the emotional impact of a stroke alongside any physical rehabilitation.

A survey of more than 2,700 survivors and their carers in the UK found many had experienced emotional suffering.

More than half of the stroke survivors surveyed said they had felt depressed and two-thirds reported anxiety.

But 42% told the Stroke Association they felt they had been abandoned after their physical needs had been seen to.

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