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Government campaign highlights stroke symptoms

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The government has launched a new campaign aimed at helping people spot the signs of a stroke

The adverts - which will feature on TV, radio, online and in print - highlight the warning signs and urge people to call 999 if they suspect that somebody is having an attack.

Symptoms of a stroke include facial weakness, inability to raise both arms and difficulty in speaking or understanding what is being said.

Studies have shown that the chances of survival are higher in patients who have their stroke confirmed by a scan quickly, and are given access to clot-busting drugs in the form of thrombolysis.

However, only 42% of patients currently receive a brain scan within 24 hours to confirm their diagnosis and only 62% are treated on a dedicated stroke unit.

According to estimates from the Royal College of Physicians, thousands of lives could be saved if patients were admitted straight to stroke units, while 4,500 people could escape disability if they were given thrombolysis.

Professor Roger Boyle, national director for heart disease and stroke, said that blood clots - which can be treated with thrombolysis - were the cause of three quarters of strokes.

However, experts writing in the British Medical Journal last year said that only 30 acute NHS trusts out of 175 provided thrombolysis.

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