Fear of catching Covid in hospital and not wanting to burden an overburdened health service are two of the main reasons for the decline in the number of people with cardiovascular diseases – such as high blood pressure – being diagnosed, said the Stroke Association.
Almost 274,000 people in Northern Ireland (14% of the population) are recorded as having high blood pressure, which is a contributing factor in around half of all strokes.
Barry Macaulay of the Stroke Association at NI said: ‘When Covid cases are increasing as quickly as they are now, it sounds the alarm bells for our charity and for everyone involved in dealing with accidents. cerebrovascular. More Omicron cases are likely to mean more preventable death and disability as people delay seeking emergency medical attention. “
Mr Macauley said we “may see even more people have strokes this Christmas than in previous years”, and added: “We know people are naturally hesitant to go to the hospital when cases increase, but l “Stroke is a potentially fatal disease. Fear of catching Covid and feeling like a burden on health services prevented people from calling 999 at the onset of the pandemic.”
There are around 5,000 strokes each year and over 39,000 stroke survivors live in Northern Ireland.
Mr Macauley went on to say, “Stroke clinicians and nurses as well as paramedics and therapists have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to maintain stroke services. Everyone at our charity is grateful for their hard work and support. “
Signs of stroke (FAST test)
Face – Can the person smile? Has their face fallen to one side?
Arms – Can the person raise both arms and keep them there?
Speech problems – Can the person speak clearly and understand what you are saying? Is their speech scrambled?
Time – If you see any of these signs, it’s time to call 999.
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