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Stroke Awareness Month

Every second counts when someone is having a stroke. Acting FAST can save lives.

Woman who had a stroke raising awareness during Stroke Awareness Month


Stroke Awareness Month campaign was launched by the Stroke Association in order to raise awareness of stroke and the impact it has on sufferers, their friends and families. With 100,000 people having strokes each year in the UK, it's crucial to highlight the signs and symptoms of stroke, what causes it and to reiterate what to do if someone is suffering a stroke. Early recognition of stroke symptoms can give a person extra precious minutes, enabling faster access to specialist treatment and increasing the chances of a better outcome. If stroke is left untreated, it can result in permanent disability or death, therefore it's paramount that you act FAST.

what IS A stroke?

A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is restricted or stopped. If the blood flow to the brain is interrupted, brain cells can get damaged because they are not getting the oxygen and nutrients they need. This can affect speech, movement and cognitive processes. The effects of a stroke depend on where the stroke was in the brain, and the amount of damage.

There are two main types of stroke and each one of them results in different treatment and recovery therapies:

  • ischaemic stroke - happens when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. It's the most common type of stroke accounting for around 85% of strokes in the UK.

  • haemorrhagic stroke - happens when a blood vessel ruptures (or bursts), causing a bleed in the brain. This means less blood gets to the surrounding brain cells, causing them to die. It's a less common type of stroke, and around 15% of strokes in the UK are haemorrhagic.

A related condition is transient ischaemic attack (TIA), also known as a mini-stroke, is the same as a stroke but the symptoms only last for a short amount of time. A person gets stroke symptoms because a clot is blocking the blood supply in the brain. When the clot moves away, the stroke symptoms stop.

what ARE THE Risk Factors OF A stroke?

As we age, our arteries may naturally become narrower and more likely to become blocked. However, lifestyle factors and certain medical conditions can speed up this process and increase the risk of having a stroke. These include:

  • smoking

  • high blood pressure (hypertension)

  • obesity

  • high cholesterol levels

  • diabetes

  • excessive alcohol intake

  • atrial fibrillation (a type of irregular heartbeat)

While most people who have a stroke are older, younger people can have strokes too.

what ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A stroke and what to do if Someone Has it?

Would you be able to recognise if someone is having a stroke?

  • 0%Yes

  • 0%No

Stroke can happen to anyone, of any age, at any time. The signs and symptoms of a stroke vary from person to person, but usually begin suddenly. The symptoms depend on the part of the brain affected and the extent of the damage.

The main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the FAST acronym:

  • F is for face – the person’s face may start to drop, making it difficult for them to smile. Their eye or mouth may also drop.

  • A is for arms – the person may be unable to lift their arms.

  • S is for speech – the person has difficulty with speech which may be slurred or garbled or they may not be able speak at all. They may also have problems understanding what someone is saying to them.

  • T is for time – if you notice any of these symptoms call 999 immediately. A stroke is a medical emergency so the person must get to hospital as soon as possible.

"Stroke is a medical emergency and time lost is brain lost. This is why it’s incredibly important that you act FAST. It is our responsibility to know the signs and be on the lookout for stroke. Acting FAST saves lives."

- Juliet Bouverie, Chief Executive of the Stroke Association

Symptoms in the FAST test identify most strokes, however occasionally a stroke can cause different symptoms. These may include:

  • complete paralysis of one side of the body

  • sudden loss or blurring of vision

  • being or feeling sick

  • confusion

  • dizziness

  • problems with balance and co-ordination

  • difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)

  • a sudden and very severe headache resulting in a blinding pain

  • loss of consciousness

You can find out more about FAST and what to do if someone has stroke in the video from St John Ambulance:

Supporting stroke survivors returning to the workplace

According to Stroke Association, 1 in 4 strokes in the UK happens to people of working age. Every stroke is different, and every recovery is different too. Whether a person is able to return to work and how long it takes will depend on the effects of a stroke, treatment and rehabilitation therapy received, as well as the type of work a person was doing before. Although it may be very challenging for survivors to return to or remain in employment, with the right care, support and guidance, many people can and do return to work following a stroke.

Stroke survivors with a disability are covered by the Equality Act 2010, which protects disabled people from discrimination in the workplace. Under the Equality Act, employers have a legal duty to make reasonable adjustments and support stroke survivors in the workplace. What is seen as reasonable will depend on a range of factors and will be different for every organisation. Some general guidelines for establishing what is reasonable include:

  • how practical the adjustment is to make and whether there are resources available

  • how effective the adjustment would be at removing the disadvantage to the employee

  • how the adjustment might affect other employees and the organisation

  • the cost of making an adjustment

It's important for employers to understand an employee's individual situation, as, not everyone following a stroke will need specific adjustments and any that are needed will vary depending on the person’s needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Reasonable adjustments do not have to be expensive or complicated. It’s all about looking at the barriers an employee is experiencing and coming up with solutions on how these could be removed. Examples of reasonable adjustments may include:

  • Getting more time to complete tasks

  • Changing working arrangements, e.g. changing contracted hours, enabling employee to work from home, or changing start and finish time

  • Changing tasks to suit what a person can do

  • Providing Assistive Technology, e.g. digital tools and software to support with reading aloud, writing and grammar

  • Changing targets or getting support from other colleagues to meet targets

  • Making changes to the employee’s work station, e.g. screen magnifiers can sometimes help with visual difficulties

Through our Management Service, the Occupational Health Advisors can advise on reasonable adjustments and provide guidance on how to support the employee on an ongoing basis. They can assess employees on long-term sick leave, advise on the likely timescale of the absence and devise a suitable return to work plan.

A complete guide to stroke for employers from Stroke Association can provide you with further information on how stroke can affect someone in the workplace and what can be done to support employee when they return to work after a stroke. Also, Work After Stroke - Information for Employers from Different Strokes offers guidance on facilitating return to, adjustments at work and in recruitment process. You may also want to share with the employee A complete guide to work and stroke which has useful information about the process of going back to work following a stroke.

A colleague returning to work after having a stroke

Raising Awareness and Promoting Healthy Lifestyle IN the workplace

Employers can play crucial role in raising awareness of stroke by providing employees with information and tools that can help them understand the risk factors associated with stroke what symptoms they should be aware of, and what they should do if they think someone is having a stroke. From sharing relevant resources like booklets, articles, videos and podcasts via Intranet, to displaying posters and leaflets in staff rooms, canteens or on notice boards around the workplace. To go one step further, employers can also organise an educational workshop led by a healthcare professional.

Here's the list of useful resources that you could share with your staff:

  • Information leaflets from Stroke Association covering topics like effects of stroke, risk factors, stroke prevention, life after stroke, healthy lifestyle, caring for someone after stroke, and support available. Some of the these information leaflets are also available in the audio format.

  • Act FAST campaign resources from NHS which include email signature, wallet cards, social assets, videos, posters, and PR toolkit. Some of the assets are also available in other languages.

  • Act FAST stories from NHS is a series of portraits featuring real life stroke survivors with the people who saved them.

  • Your Stroke Toolkit from Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland is a collection of resources to help people understand their condition, improve health and manage symptoms.

  • When The Words Away Went (Stroke Survivor Documentary) from Stroke Association shows a group of stroke survivors with aphasia sharing their stories and trying to rebuild their lives.

Stroke can be devastating both for the survivors and their families who may often not know where to turn for more information and support. But there are some charities that offer additional help and guidance for anyone who had a stroke. Provide your employees with the details of how they can contact these organisations for support, for instance:

  • Stroke Association- it offers Stroke Helpline, online community, weekly volunteer calls, Online Stroke Activities Hub, as well as local and online support groups providing help and guidance for stroke survivors, carers, family and friends.

  • Think Ahead Stroke - it offers recovery programmes, wellbeing courses, mentoring programme, and various activities and groups.

  • Different Strokes - it provides online exercise classes, local support groups, information helpline, Facebook support group, and bursary fund.

  • Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland - it offers peer support groups and Self Help 4 Stroke

Many people are living with conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol that, if left untreated, significantly increase the risk of a potentially deadly stroke.

By having regular health check-ups and following some simple lifestyle rules, employees can dramatically reduce the chances of having a stroke. Our Employee Health Checks can help detect hidden risk factors of stroke by measuring the blood pressure and checking cholesterol and glucose levels. Gaining an insight into current overall health can empower employees to manage their condition and make positive lifestyle changes, helping them to stay healthy and well.

Man having diabetes check

A stroke doesn't have to mean the end of someone’s working life. In fact, many stroke survivors can and do return to work following a stroke. Employers should fully understand the impact of stroke, particularly the hidden effects, and put appropriate measures in place to help survivors return to, or remain in work. Supporting employees following a stroke can show employer's commitment to develop an inclusive and empowering workplace culture. Moreover, retaining talented, experiences and skilled employees can also help maintain institutional knowledge and expertise while also reducing costs associated with recruitment and training replacements.




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