Australian National Stroke Week is this week so let’s have a spotlight on stroke awareness.
National Stroke Week is the Stroke Foundation’s annual awareness campaign. National Stroke Week runs from 3-10 September. It is an annual event which aims to raise the awareness of stroke within the community and encourage Australians to take action to prevent stroke. Throughout the week, all Australians are encouraged to:
• Be aware of what stroke is, how to recognise a stroke and what to do
• Live healthy to reduce the risk of stroke
• Get a regular health check
What is a stroke?
A stroke happens when blood supply to the brain is interrupted. Blood is carried to the brain by blood vessels called arteries. Blood contains oxygen and important nutrients for your brain cells. Blood may be interrupted or stop moving through an artery, because the artery is blocked (ischaemic stroke) or bursts (haemorrhagic stroke). When brain cells do not get enough oxygen or nutrients, they die at a rapid rate.
More than 80% of strokes can be prevented
How do you know if someone is having a stroke? Think F.A.S.T.
F: Face. Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
A: Arms. Can they lift both arms?
S: Speech. Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
T: Time is critical. If you see any of these signs call 000 straight away.
A stroke is always a medical emergency. The longer a stroke remains untreated, the greater the chance of stroke-related brain damage.
For more information on stroke make sure you contact the Stroke Foundation. If you or someone you know has experience a stroke, this foundation are a fantastic source of information, and can refer you on to specialised programs for support, treatment and prevention. Go to strokefoundation.com.au.
Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers and a leading cause of disability
Reduce your risk
There are some stroke risk factors that you cannot do anything about, such as older age, family history, being male or already having a prior stroke. But for most Australians, you can reduce your risk and help prevent stroke by taking some simple steps:
Make time for a health check for stroke risk factors
Know your blood pressure and keep it down. You can control your blood pressure by changing your diet and lifestyle, particularly through regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. The lower your blood pressure, the lower your risk of stroke. Your doctor can help you to regularly check your blood pressure or ask our friendly staff to check for you today.
Our bodies need a hormone called insulin to turn sugar from our food into energy. If you have type 2 diabetes, your body becomes resistant to insulin and it does not make enough insulin to keep up. This means your body has difficulty absorbing the sugars from food. If you have diabetes it is important to keep your blood sugars within a recommended range. Consult with your doctor or diabetes educator about management of your blood sugar level. Irregular pulse or irregular heartbeat is known as atrial fibrillation, or AF. To find out if you have atrial fibrillation, a doctor or nurse will check your pulse. If it feels irregular, they may refer you for more tests. If you experience symptoms such as palpitations, faintness, breathlessness or weakness, it is important to see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Did you know stroke kills more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer?
Take charge of your own health and live a healthy lifestyle
Keep active. Being inactive can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, overweight and obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Over half of Australian adults do not do the recommended amount of physical activity. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most (preferably all) days of the week.
Eat healthy. Healthy eating is important for reducing your risk of stroke. Obesity, being overweight or having too much body fat can also be a contribution and affects a number of risk factors. Your diet should contain vegetables, fruit and grain, lean meats, poultry and fish, reduced fat milk and yoghurt. Substitute sweets for nuts or fresh fruit and steer clear from sugary drinks.
Quit smoking. Smoking doubles your risk of stroke. Within a month after a person stops smoking, blood pressure returns to its normal range. The risk of heart attack and stroke starts to drop immediately after a person stops using tobacco products, and can drop by as much as half after one year. After fifteen years your risk of stroke and heart attack is almost the same as that of a person who has never smoked.
Reduce alcohol consumption. Drinking large amounts of alcohol increases your risk of stroke through increased blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity and irregular heartbeat. Drink no more than two standard alcoholic drinks on any day to reduce harm from alcohol-related disease or injury.