National Stroke Week is 8 – 14 August. We are creating awareness about stroke prevention, as having a stroke more than doubles your risk of developing dementia.
Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers and every day, 23 people die from stroke. Among those who survive, 1 in 3 will have a long-term disability due to their stroke and are likely to always need help with talking, moving and self-care.
Stroke happens when blood flow to your brain is interrupted, and cells are damaged or die as a result. This can happen because a blood vessel become blocked by a clot (called an ischaemic stroke) or a blood vessel bursts (called a haemorrhagic stroke).
Signs of stroke
Signs of a stroke can include:
- weakness on one side of the body
- numbness of the face
- unusual and severe headache
- slurred speech
- vision loss
- numbness and tingling
- unsteady walk.
It is important to know the F.A.S.T signs of stroke and share these with your family and friends.
Face – Check their face. Has their 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) straight away.
What about TIAs?
A transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or ‘mini stroke’ occurs when blood supply to your brain is temporarily blocked. The signs are the same as for a stroke, but they disappear within a short time (usually minutes but less than 24 hours). After a TIA, your risk of ischaemic stroke is higher, so see your doctor urgently so you can reduce your chance of an ischaemic stroke.
More than 4 in 5 strokes are preventable. You can reduce your risk of stroke by:
- Maintaining a healthy bodyweight
- Eating a healthy diet, reducing salt and avoiding high cholesterol foods, and, if drinking alcohol, only in moderation
- Exercising more
- Avoiding smoking.
If you have high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol or an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation), see your GP for ways to manage these stroke risk factors using medication.
After a stroke, it is important to prevent a repeat stroke by managing the risk factors described above. Stroke rehabilitation can help by supporting people who have had a stroke to cope with the effects of stroke and live a healthy life.
Your doctor can refer you to a stroke rehabilitation program or you can call the National Stroke Foundation’s StrokeLine on 1800 787 653 (free). The StrokeLine team can help you find support and services you need, whether you are a stroke survivor, carer or family member. StrokeLine is available Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, Eastern Standard Time (closed on Australian national public holidays).