Cynon AM supports constituent’s campaign to ‘BEFAST’ on stroke detection

Cynon Valley AM Vikki Howells is supporting a call to update the advice given to healthcare professionals and in public awareness campaigns on how to recognise a stroke, saying that this will help save lives.

Currently, recognition of strokes is based on the FAST principle, standing for Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties and presence of these meaning it is Time to call the emergency services.

However, some people who are affected by strokes do not display these symptoms, leading to delays in diagnosis and accessing treatment which can have serious long-term health consequences.

Based on his own health experiences, Cynon Valley resident Phillip Easton has launched a campaign to change the advice to BEFAST, adding recognition of warning signs in someone’s Balance and Eyes.

Mr Easton has submitted a petition in support of the change to the Welsh Assembly’s Petitions Committee. Vikki Howells AM met with Mr Easton and Committee Chair Mike Hedges AM (pictured) to discuss progress of the petition.

Mr Easton said:-

“I suffered a sudden and intense bout of vertigo in early December 2015. I was in bed for three whole days and was unable to move to eat, drink, or anything else. Had I known this could have been a stroke I would have called an ambulance immediately.

“After two further bouts, I was finally referred to ENT for vertigo as my symptoms weren’t going away as hoped. In late January 2017 I was finally allowed an MRI for lingering ear pain and was checked for infection. As a consequence, evidence of a stroke was found, more than 15 months after my first symptoms.

“This affected not only my long term health, but also in the shorter term my ability to earn my own livelihood.”

Vikki Howells said:-

“Many of us are familiar with the idea of detecting strokes through the warning signs referred to under the well-publicised FAST principle. This does not go far enough, and some people who have life-threatening strokes may not get the help they need.

“Focusing on Balance and Eyes, and changing FAST to BEFAST, could help make sure this does not happen.

“I applaud Mr Easton for the way in which he has drawn on his own experiences of suffering from several unrecognised warning signs before his stroke to raise awareness of this issue, and push for a change in public health messages and advice to professionals.”

Mr Easton formally submitted his petition on 7 June. The petition is now closed for signatures and is currently awaiting its first consideration by the Petitions Committee.