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Scots ignorant about killer illness

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Scots are shockingly ignorant about strokes, a charity is warning during Brain Awareness Week

Stroke can happen to anyone both young and old and its impact can be life-changing - Elspeth Molony

Over a quarter of Scots have no idea what a stroke is even though it is the biggest cause of disability in Scotland.

The Stroke Association said it is dismayed by the findings of recent research carried out for Brain Awareness Week, which starts on 10 March.

Shockingly, 15% of people wrongly believe that a stroke is something that happens in the heart and 6% thought it happens in the chest.

Elspeth Molony, the charity’s deputy director for Scotland, said: “Stroke is a brain attack. It happens when blood circulation to the brain fails.

“One in six of us will have a stroke so it is crucial that we increase awareness so more people understand what a stroke is and how to recognise the symptoms of stroke.”

The charity is using the week to highlight the importance of the FAST test to help people identify someone who is having a stroke and ensure they get medical treatment immediately.

The first three letters in FAST stand for facial weakness, arm weakness and speech problems leading to the T, which means time to call 999.

Molony continued: “While it is reassuring that the vast majority of the people we polled knew what to do if someone was having a stroke, we are concerned that with over a quarter of people polled not understanding what a stroke is they may not recognise the symptoms appropriately.

“Stroke can happen to anyone both young and old and its impact can be life-changing. For those who know what a stroke is and what the FAST message is please spread the word, tell your friends and family about it and together we can help reduce the impact of Scotland’s third biggest killer.”

Around 12,500 people have a stroke in Scotland every year and there are currently 120,000 people living with the effects of stroke.

The Neurological Alliance of Scotland is also aiming to raise awareness during Brain Awareness Week.

A quarter of all disabled adults of working age have a neurological condition and the alliance predicts the number of people with neurological conditions will grow sharply in the next two decades.

On Wednesday it is holding a reception in the Scottish Parliament, hosted my Christina McKelvie MSP.

Both a patient and a health care professional will share their experiences of breaking the news to someone about having a neurological condition.

There will be an exhibition of art work, quotes and stories displayed, created by people with different neurological conditions to creatively express their experiences.