Dancer whose career almost ended due to stroke feels 'very lucky' to be alive

A professional dancer whose career almost ended when she suffered a stroke, has told UTV she is alive because her sister spotted the signs of the illness.

It comes as the Stroke Association warns that delays in rolling out a stroke action plan in Northern Ireland due to budget pressures could put lives at risk. Victoria Martin has been a dancer all of her life. Always fit and healthy, she took a stroke during the height of the pandemic, in 2020, at the age of 40.

Luckily, her sister and a friend spotted the symptoms and immediately called an ambulance.

"That's the reason I am here dancing again because they got to me really quickly. They knew all the symptoms and the ambulance was called. Thankfully the ambulance came quickly.

"When the ambulance came and took me away, I really knew it was happening and I got afraid."

Every year, almost 5,000 people in Northern Ireland have a stroke and it is one of the leading causes of death and disability.

Health professionals say it is vital to be aware of the signs to get immediate medical attention.

Last year the Department of Health published an action plan to improve stroke services that could save lives.

There are, however, concerns that the absence of a health minister and predicted budget cuts will impact these services.

Alasdair O'Hara from the Stroke Association NI told UTV that stroke patients have waited a long time for the action plan.

"It's unacceptable to wait longer for the delivery of it. We need a multi-year recurrent investment and we need decision makers to make stroke a priority.

"It is absolutely vital that we're investing in stroke services and building strong stroke services right across acute and community care."

Not everyone is as lucky as Victoria.

After heart surgery to fix a hole in her heart that caused her stroke she is now back on the dance floor - with this message to other survivors.

"I'm coming 43 and I'm still dancing, this has been a little set back but it's made me a lot stronger. I'm a very lucky girl."

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