An awareness day is being held in Basildon so people can find out more about stroke.
The event, being held between 10am and 2pm at the Towngate Theatre, is being organised to give information about the condition, steps people can take to prevent a stroke and local services.
A stroke is an acute brain attack and happens when the blood supply to the brain is disturbed, depriving the brain of oxygen. It is most common in people over 65 - but a stroke is largely preventable and the effects of a stroke can be reduced if you simply respond quickly.
Organised by NHS South West Essex and the Essex Cardiac and Stroke Network, the awareness day will give information about how to find out your risk of a stroke and how to lower this risk, what to do if you suspect someone is having a stroke, the different types of stroke, treatments and the local support available for stroke survivors and their carers.
As well as presentations from a hospital consultant specialising in stroke, the ambulance service and the Stoke Association, stroke survivors in south west Essex will talk about their experiences. Farhad Huwez, lead consultant in Basildon University Hospital's acute stroke unit will be talking about their revolutionary clot-busting thrombolysis service. After recently doubling the number of consultants in the unit, they are now able to thrombolyse patients 24/7.
Dr Huwez said: "A dedicated clinical team meets ambulance crews carrying suspected stroke victims. Immediate scans and tests can identify cases of 'mini-stroke', allowing the team to administer the crucial treatment to avoid a major stroke. Patients can only be given this treatment if seen within three hours of the attack, but it can mean the difference between paralysis or being independent, which is why it is crucial that people know how to spot the early signs of stroke."
There will also be a health fair comprising of stands from local organisations, giving people the chance to ask health professionals, patients and carers their questions.
Tom Abell, Acting Director of Commissioning and Service Integration at NHS South West Essex, says: "Few people know that stroke is the leading cause of severe adult disability in the UK and the third most common cause of death after cancer and coronary heart disease.
"While some factors that increase your risk of a stroke can't be changed - such as your family history of stroke and your age - there are simple steps we can all take to lower our risk of a stroke, including eating more healthily, stopping smoking and exercising more.
"This event aims to bring together under one roof all the information about stroke, including how to prevent a stroke from happening, how to recognise that someone is having a stroke and where to get support.
"Vitally, it will remind people that a stroke is a medical emergency. This is why its so important that people act fast on the signs of a stroke - if those experiencing a suspected stroke get the medical attention they need quickly, their chances of recovery are dramatically increased."
For more information about the event and to book a place, please call Scarlett Kemp on 01268 705087 or visit www.swessex.nhs.uk
For media enquiries, please call Rebecca Hughes, Communications Officer at NHS South West Essex, on 01268 705097 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The awareness day will remind people to act FAST on the signs of a stroke:
Face: The face may have fallen on one side, the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
Arm: The person with suspected stroke may not be able to raise both arms and keep them there because of arm weakness or numbness.
Speech: There may be slurred speech.
Time: It is time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
Notes for editors
Please find attached the FAST imagery.
â€¢ NHS Choices website at http://www.nhs.uk/actfast/Pages/stroke.aspx
Additional notes to editors
NHS South West Essex is the primary care trust that commissions services for people living in south west Essex. This means that we plan, develop and buy services for people living in Thurrock, Brentwood, Basildon, Billericay and Wickford.
Our vision is to for the entire population served by NHS South West Essex to become one of the healthiest and best cared for in the country.
The primary care trust's strategic plan - a top-level plan which sets the agenda for its work over the next five years - was launched in July 2009. It identifies four key priority areas:
Access to quality primary, community and dental care: making it easier to get an appointment with a GP or dentist, and providing community-based services so that patients don't have to go to hospital unnecessarily.
Prevention and screening: using screening (such as bowel screening for the over 60s) and immunisation programmes (such as the MMR jab) to prevent - or identify - illness wherever possible.
Patient experience, safety and quality: providing better choice, higher standards, faster access and ensuring all patients are treated with respect and dignity.
Integrated care pathways: designing services around the needs of patients and communities (rather than organisations and institutions) so that GPs, hospital doctors, social care staff, community nurses and the ambulance service work together, in the best interests of the patient.
The work described in this press release relates to theme integrated care pathways.
NHS South West Essex is committed to the NHS Constitution, which sets out the rights of patients, the public and staff; the responsibilities we all have to each other to ensure the NHS is fair and effective; pledges which the NHS is committed to achieve.