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Aberdare pharmacies are joining national campaign to help Welsh public lower their risk of stroke

A national community pharmacy public health campaign by all 714 community pharmacies across Wales is a key part of a campaign to show the Welsh public how they can control their own risk factors of getting a stroke. The objective of the pharmacy element of this national campaign is to raise public awareness of stroke specific risk factors and actions that can be taken to reduce risk.

Stroke is one of the top three causes of death and a leading cause of adult disability in Wales. It is an illness, which has significant impact on the health of our nation. Each year across Wales there will be approximately 11,000 strokes; of those around a third may be fatal. In addition over 65,000 people are living with the effects of stroke.

 

The good news is that some risk factors for stroke are under our own control. There are simple lifestyle measures that can be taken to reduce ones risk of stroke and pharmacy teams can play an important role in promoting such measures. Stopping smoking, drinking alcohol only in moderation, taking regular exercise and eating healthily can all reduce an individual’s risk of stroke; pharmacies are well placed to offer support and advice to people who want to make these positive changes.

 

There are 3 specific stroke risk factors that pharmacy teams can help identify in patients and manage:  High blood pressure (hypertension); Atrial Fibrillation (AF); and Transient ischaemic attacks (TIA) "The 714 community pharmacies across Wales are ideally placed to be providing public health messages to the 50,000 people who visit them every day. Stroke risk is one of the health conditions that local pharmacies can help patients with, in order to avoid turning that risk into a first or even subsequent stroke. This Lower Your Risk of Stroke national community pharmacy public health campaign is the latest in a series of national campaigns that Community Pharmacy Wales organises with the 7 Health Boards, Public Health Wales and the third sector. We are pleased to work with the Stroke Association in Wales again. We are also pleased that this particular campaign is part of a wider Welsh Government-funded national awareness campaign with other health professionals also involved."

There are 4 specific NHS Wales community pharmacy services that will be used to assist patients lower their risk of stroke:

  • Medicines Use Reviews – assisting patients to understand what their medicines are meant to do for them and how to use them most effectively;
  • Discharge Medicines Review service – specifically for patients coming out of hospital after having a stroke or TIA; 
  • Smoking Cessation services – providing professional help and support to give up smoking;
  • Flu jabs – free NHS flu jabs are advised for all stroke survivors as a key part of life after stroke.

Sue Mably, Consultant in Public Health for Public Health Wales, said:

“Public Health Wales welcomes and supports the involvement of pharmacists in highlighting the specific stroke specific risk factors; hypertension, AF and TIA. Everyone can take simple steps to reduce the risk factors for stroke, such as eating a healthy diet, taking regular exercise, not smoking and only drinking alcohol in moderation.

“Add to Your Life, the online self-assessment for people aged 50 and over in Wales, offers tailored, helpful information on how to take small steps to improve lifestyles and as a consequence reduce risk of diseases and conditions, including stroke. Public Health Wales recognises the role that pharmacists will play by directing people to the addtoyourlife.co.uk website, who they believe are of greater risk and want to make positive changes.”

Ana Palazon Director Cymru Stroke Association said:

“We are boldly asking people to do three simple things.  Get their blood pressure checked on an annual basis, check their pulse for any irregularity and lastly seek urgent medical attention should they experience stroke symptoms.  By taking action on these three things, we could reduce the number of strokes across Wales by up to 50%.”

“All stroke symptoms should be treated seriously, no matter how quickly they pass.   People should look out for facial weakness or drooping, loss of mobility down one side or problems with speech.  The Act FAST message is vitally important, as the sooner people get medical help, the better their outcomes and the lesser their disability.  Don’t ignore funny turns, get to hospital”

The overall campaign includes information materials being sent to other healthcare professionals such as GPs, optometrists and dentists and a range of events across Wales.  There are also a series of Health Awareness events being arranged in each health board by the Stroke Association, see stroke.org.uk/lower-your-risk-stroke for more information;

The campaign is organised by the seven Health Boards, Public Health Wales, Community Pharmacy Wales, Stroke Association Wales and is supported by the Welsh Centre for Pharmacy Professional Education (WCPPE) at Cardiff University and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales (RPS).

Chris James, Director of Online Pharmacy UK www.onlinepharmacyuk.co.uk

Advice on lowering your risk of stroke will also be given out on twitter by the campaign partners using the hashtags #strokerisk and #lleihaustroc