Healthcare news

Belfast woman tells how father's 'FAST action' saved her life when she suffered a stroke aged just 31

Claire Tollerton says her father's 'FAST action' saved her life

A BELFAST woman has told how her father's "FAST action" saved her life after she suffered a stroke aged just 31.

Claire Tollerton, who took ill in January last year, said "you just never expect a stroke to happen to a younger person like me".

She is speaking out to raise awareness of the FAST campaign to help people understand how to spot the signs of stroke and act fast to get medical help.

"It was such a strange experience - I was trying to text mum but I couldn’t figure out what I was trying to say or how to send the text message," she said.

"My dad rang and he noticed that my speech was very slow and slurred. Luckily he lives close by and was around at my house within minutes.

"He said 'Do you realise you’re speaking very slowly?' but I really didn’t know what was going on. Dad knew something was wrong and rang an ambulance.

"I am so lucky my dad was there.

"My grandparents had had strokes so he recognised the signs and insisted I go to hospital. I thought it was over-reacting but I just didn’t realise how sick I was."

Ms Tollerton said after two days of tests it was discovered there was a bleed on her brain and she was admitted to the stroke unit.

"I was kept in hospital for around a week and doctors discovered that I had a previously undetected hole in my heart which allowed a blood clot to travel from my leg and cause the stroke," she said.

"I feel like one of the lucky ones because my dad saved my life, but I know it’s going to take a while to fully recover from my stroke."

This week the Public Health Agency re-launches the FAST campaign to help people understand how to spot the signs of stroke:

  • Face: Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
  • Arm weakness: Can the person raise both arms?
  • Speech problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
  • Time to call 999

Brenda Maguire from the Stroke Association said: "The sooner somebody who is having a stroke gets urgent medical attention, the better their chances of a good recovery.

"We want more people in Northern Ireland to know the FAST test and be able to recognise a stroke. Learn the FAST test and share it with your friends and family and you could save a life."

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