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Southlanders with stroke symptoms urged to overcome stoicism and get to hospital FAST

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Southland Hospital’s Clinical Director of Medicine, Dr Prosen Ghosh is urging Southlanders to recognise the signs of a stroke and to overcome their natural stoicism so they get to hospital faster for better health outcomes.

“Southlanders are inherently stoic but a stroke is a medical emergency requiring rapid treatment.  Knowing the signs and seeking help earlier rather than later leads to better health outcomes and reduces the risk of ongoing disability” he said.

Dr Prosen Ghosh

Dr Prosen Ghosh

Dr Ghosh’s call comes at the same time as the Ministry of Health, the Stroke Foundation New Zealand and Te Hiringa Hauora are running the 2020 national FAST campaign, to teach New Zealanders the signs of stroke.

A stroke is a brain attack and a medical emergency, and people need to take action by calling 111 immediately if they see any of the signs.

FAST is a mnemonic, which is an easy way for people to remember the signs of a stroke and what to do.

Know the signs of stroke, think FAST:

F    Face - is their face drooping on one side? 

A    Arm - is one arm weak? 

S    Speech - is their speech mixed up, slurred or lost?

T    Take Action - call 111. 

Call 111 immediately if you see any signs of stroke.

Dr Ghosh said the message is a critical one for Southlanders, who historically are reluctant to come to hospital immediately after the development of symptoms.

“Southlanders often wait to see if their symptoms will subside with time, but with a stroke this is not a good thing. If you experience any of the FAST symptoms, don’t call your GP, call an ambulance immediately. The quicker you get to hospital the better the outcome is likely to be. Time is of the essence here.”

Dr Ghosh said getting to hospital as soon as possible enables our community to take advantage from new stroke therapies available.

These new therapies are:

  • Thrombolysis – the administration of a clot-busting drug that attempts to stop the stroke.  This needs to be administered within 4.5 hours from stroke onset but the earlier it is given, the better the outcome.
  • Clot retrieval – patients are flown to Christchurch Hospital, where neurologists pass a fine wire into the vessels of the brain to retrieve the clot.

“Clot retrieval has even better outcomes than thrombolysis and is now the gold standard of acute treatment for stroke throughout the world.  It is state-of-the-art and since the beginning of this year has been available to Southland patients.  “Patients may have one or both of these therapies.  Ideally Doctors would like to see patients at Southland Hospital within the first hour of experiencing symptoms, so they can begin treatment  as soon as possible”.

“I would like Southlanders to recognise the FAST symptoms, and when someone is experiencing these, to get to Hospital as quickly as possible.  The faster you present for treatment, the less likely you are to have ongoing disability from the stroke” he said.