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Londoners urged to know their blood pressure

Know Your Blood Pressure logoAmbulance staff will be offering free blood pressure checks to Londoners at 19 health fairs across the capital to raise awareness of stroke this Saturday (17 April).

High blood pressure, which can go undiagnosed in a lot of people, is the biggest risk factor for stroke.

A stroke, also known as a ‘brain attack’, happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. In many cases someone suffering a stroke can be left with long-term disabilities, while in some cases they can even die.

The Stroke Associaton, which is working with the Service on this initiative, says that around 40 per cent of all strokes could be prevented if people with undiagnosed high blood pressure were identified and treated.

Londoners will also be shown how to perform the FAST test, which is a simple way of diagnosing stroke in other people (Face, Arm, Speech, Time to call 999). The more quickly a stroke can be identified, the more chance someone has of recovery.

Assistant Medical Director Neil Thomson said: “By coming to one of the health fairs and getting your blood pressure checked you will ensure that you’re taking the most simple and effective step to preventing stroke.

“Early recognition of the symptoms of stroke in other people, by using the FAST test, and early treatment at a specialist hospital gives the patient a much-improved chance of recovery.”

Since February this year, eight specialist stroke centres have been operating around the clock in London. Patients who are taken there will receive quick access to a specialist scan and expert treatment, which will increase their chance of survival and cut the risk of long-term disability.

Know Your Blood Pressure venuesThe 19 venues where the health fairs will take place are listed below.

Events will be running on Saturday (17 April) from 10am to 3pm.

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Note to editors:

  • For further information on the London Ambulance Service or this news release please contact the Communications Department on 020 7921 5113.
  • Media are welcome to attend a local health fair to have their blood pressure checked and speak to our staff.

Stroke facts

  • A stroke is a brain attack which happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off
  • High blood pressure is the single biggest risk factor for stroke
  • Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the largest single cause of disability in England
  • Somebody in the UK has a stroke every five minutes
  • Stroke is more common in men than women – but more women who have strokes die from them compared to men
  • The brain ages 3.6 years and loses 120m cells for every hour a stroke is left untreated

The FAST test

A simple way to check for stroke in others is by using the FAST test. Look for:

  • Face: Has the person’s face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms: Can they raise both arms and keep them there?
  • Speech: Is their speech slurred, or is there difficulty in understanding?
  • Time: Time to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs