I have had a bit of a realisation lately. A realisation that I am getting old. People my age are dying of health conditions, that I had thought only affected “old people”. I was shocked, and saddened to hear about a 39 year old Victorian man who had a heart attack at the Mooloolaba Iron Man last month, and thanks to a Stroke Awareness campaign kicking off tomorrow. on World Stroke Day, I have learnt that 30% of stroke survivors are of working age – and that is me!
I have learnt that in the hour I spend having my morning coffee (I wish I had a hour to have my morning coffee!); six people will have a stroke. Two of these people will recover, two will die and two will be left with a disability that will impact their ability to carry out everyday tasks, for the rest of their lives.
Stroke is the second biggest killer and leading cause of disability in Australia.
Stroke does not discriminate – the stroke community encompasses people from all walks of life, ages and from across Australia. These people are our parents, partners, friends, colleagues, children and even me!
So, what is a Stroke?
Blood travels to the brain in blood vessels, called arteries. A stroke is when the blood supply to the brain is suddenly cut off. This can happen in two ways:
- Blood can stop moving through the artery when it gets blocked by a clot;
- When an artery bursts.
A stroke can cause the same kind of brain injury as a serious car crash and needs the same urgent medical treatment.
Around 65% of those living with stroke suffer a disability that impedes their ability to carry out daily living activities unassisted. Because the brain controls the way we think, move, speak, eat – stroke can leave people with a wide range of problems including difficulty getting about, difficulty thinking and remembering, difficulty doing everyday tasks and difficulty speaking or understanding.
The most interesting fact is that most strokes are preventable. There are some simple steps we can do take control of our own health. Too many people are unaware of their stroke risk and what steps they can take to reduce that risk.
For example, around 64% of Australians have three or more risk factors for stroke. Nearly four million Australians over 25 have high blood pressure, but many do not know their blood pressure numbers. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have it checked. Risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, high alcohol consumption, being overweight or obese, and being physically inactive.
Simple things can make a big difference. Making postive changes to your lifestyle such as stopping smoking, controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol can drastically reduce your risk of stroke.
Time is a vital weapon against stroke
Would you know what to do if someone were having a stroke? Every single minute counts. The sooner a person having a stroke gets help and critical treatment, the better the chance of survival and quality of life.
Tomorrow, Wednesday 29th October is World Stroke Day, and The Stroke Foundation would like to educate more Australians to recognise the signs of stroke – and what to do when they see one happening – to ultimately cut the level of death and disability dramatically.
FAST is an easy way to remember and recognise the signs of stroke, and it is easy to remember:
Face – Has the persons mouth drooped?
Arms – Can they lift both arms?
Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time – Time is critical. If you see any of these signs call, triple zero (000).
This World Stroke Day (Oct 29) the National Stroke Foundation have a goal to educate all Australians to recognise the signs of stroke and to know what to do – FAST.
This knowledge could save the life of your colleague, family member or friend.
The National Stroke Foundation would like to ask you to support their First Hour campaign, and donate one hour’s pay on World Stroke Day.
Just one hour’s pay.
It doesn’t seem like much, but collectively it will make a huge difference.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of stroke, and critical funds to deliver life-saving education and support to thousands of Australians.