A Dundee mum who suffered two strokes is warning others of symptoms to look out for – as new figures reveal what campaigners say is the ‘domino effect’ of the pandemic on people’s health.
New reports on heart disease and stroke released today, covering the first year of the pandemic (March 2020 – March 2021), sees the highest number of strokes in a decade (9352).
Deaths from heart disease and strokes are also on the rise in Scotland: 6727 from coronary heart disease (the highest since 2017) and 2180 from stroke (highest since 2016).
Jane-Claire Judson, Chief Executive at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, says: “These reports confirm what we’ve long feared – the Covid crisis has created a dangerous domino effect on people’s health that will have serious consequences for years.
“We’re seeing some recent hard-won progress made in tackling stroke and heart disease stall.
“More families are grieving the loss of a loved one.
“And our services teams are seeing people who have more complex needs because their strokes or heart problems were identified later than they normally would.”
Heather Paterson, 58, lives in Dundee. She had two strokes in December 2019 and was released from hospital in March 2020 as lockdown began.
Left with aphasia – which causes communication difficulties – and partly paralysed down her right-hand side, Heather credits her recovery to the quick medical treatment she received.
And to the online therapy provided by Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland once she was back at home.
Mum of two Heather says: “We know the first two-four hours are critical for stroke patients to get help, especially for thrombolysis.
“That’s why it’s so important not to ignore any of the signs of stroke. The quicker you can get to hospital, the better chance you have of recovery.
“Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland have done wonderful work for me and people like me all during lockdown and beyond.
‘There when I felt alone and afraid’
“When nobody else was there for me, their staff and volunteers were always on the end of the phone.
“That support made all the difference when I felt very alone and afraid. I want everyone to benefit from the support I got.”
Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland is calling for action to better integrate the work of charities, the NHS and social care services to reduce service pressures.
‘Covid impacts not going away soon’
“We need to learn from these figures to avoid this becoming a recurring tragedy,” says Jane-Claire Judson.
“Covid and its impacts aren’t going away anytime soon.
“It’s vital the Scottish Government works to better integrate health and social care services with charities who can keep people well at home.
“By taking action now there’s still a chance we can help limit some of the damage.”
- If you’re living with the effects of heart disease and stroke and looking for help, please contact Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Advice Line on 0808 801 0899. You can also text NURSE to 66777 or email email@example.com.