Silent killer could strike this winter as cases of Omicron creep up

A SILENT killer will strike Brits this winter as the Omicron variant takes centre stage. 

Thousands more people are thought to be living with untreated high blood pressure than pre-Covid.

Also known as a silent killer because it has no symptoms, high blood pressure can lead to a number of potentially fatal events, including stroke and heart attack. 

High blood pressure, medically known as hypertension, is the biggest risk factor for stroke, contributing to 55.4 per cent of cases.

But there was a 43 per cent reduction in the rate of diagnosis of cardiovascular conditions (including high blood pressure) between March and May 2020.

At the time, Covid cases were soaring and people refrained from seeing their GP

Juliet Bouverie, Chief Executive of the Stroke Association, warns: "That means more people are living with undetected high blood pressure and are at high risk of stroke. 

"As a result, we could see even more people having a stroke this Christmas than in previous years.”

But even more concerning to the charity, is that when Covid cases go up, fewer people seek medical help for stroke.

And infection are undoubtedly higher – a record-breaking 100,000 cases were reported by the Government on December 22.

Most read in Health

KNIFE EDGE

New Year lockdown decision DELAYED as Boris told 'hold off' after bombshell data

HO HO HOPE

Boris issues booster call to arms as positive data raises hopes for New Year

PHEW YEAR'S EVE

Boris will NOT announce any lockdown restrictions before Christmas

OMI-NOUS SPREAD

UK daily Covid cases hit new record HIGH as 106,122 Brits test positive

Strokes are life-threatening and need urgent treatment, with a higher likelihood of survival and recovery in those who get help sooner.

Stroke Association warns the number of untreated strokes will likely increase this winter, due to rise in Omicron cases.

It warns people not to delay seeking treatment for stroke, concerned that due to the Omicron variant, there will be a drop in hospital admissions similar to that seen at the start of the pandemic.

Around 2,000 fewer people were admitted to hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the first lockdown.

This may have caused the 54 per cent rise in at home deaths for stroke in England and Wales.

The Stroke Association’s Recoveries at Risk report found patients worried about catching the virus or putting more pressure on the NHS. 

Nearly a third (32 per cent) of people who survived a stroke between March and June 2020 said they delayed seeking medical attention due to Covid.

The charity says that with the added impact of reported ambulance delays, this is likely to intensify feelings of being a burden on the NHS.

Juliet said: “When Covid cases rise as quickly as they are doing now, that sets off alarm bells.

“More Omicron cases is likely to mean more preventable deaths and disability due to stroke, as people delay seeking emergency medical attention.

“We know that people get scared to go to hospital when cases rise but stroke is a life-threatening condition."

KNOW THE SIGNS

Juliet said: “Stroke is an emergency medical condition and should be treated as an emergency from the moment you ring 999.

“You have to remember that stroke is a brain attack and when you see any of the FAST signs of stroke in someone, this means that their brain is dying. 

“You must raise the alarm; you must call 999 immediately.”

Face – Can the person smile? Has their face fallen on one side?

Arms – Can the person raise both arms and keep them there?

Speech problems – Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say? Is their speech slurred?

Time – If you see any single one of these signs, it’s time to call 999

THE FACTS

In the UK there are over 100,000 strokes per year. One in eight lead to death.

Many others are left with lifelong problems because of injury to the brain.

Stroke is the UK’s fourth biggest killer and the leading cause of adult disability.

For every minute a stroke is untreated, 1.9 million brain cells die.

999 LIFE-SAVER

Gerald McMullen, from Cardiff, described how his wife slowly recognised he was having a stroke during the lockdown.

He said: “I got up in the morning and felt OK. I was sitting in my chair having a cup of tea when my wife, Linda, suddenly asked if I was OK. 

“I said ‘yes’. However, she noticed that something was amiss. My outstretched arm, holding my cup, seemed rigid to her.”

Gerald’s speech became “a little slurry”, and despite his insistence he was fine, his wife ignored him and called an ambulance.

“She was on the phone to 999 and was asked if my face had dropped – it hadn’t – and whether I could lift my arms, which by then I couldn’t. My speech did not make sense by this time either.”

Gerald was taken to hospital where he was treated but has a weaker right arm – a minor inconvenience, he notes, which is much better than the alternative.

He said: “The doctors said I would have been catastrophically damaged. I could have died. I came through and I’m here now.

“I’m so glad that my wife called 999. It was a lifesaver. If you’re with someone who might be showing the symptoms of stroke, please make that 999 call. It’s vital that you do.”

    Source: Read Full Article