Take the time to understand and protect yourself against stroke
This week, 10–16 September 2012, marks National Stroke Week, a week dedicated to helping Australians understand the risk factors and encourage steps towards preventing stroke. While a recent poll by the Stroke Foundation found that many Australians do not rate stroke as a health concern1, you may be surprised to know that stroke is, in fact, Australia’s second biggest killer (after heart disease) and a leading cause of disability2.
One in every six Australians will have a stroke in their lifetime1 so it's vital that we all understand our risk factors and the warning signs.
A stroke can happen to anyone at any age – not just the elderly. It occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted. When this all-important organ doesn't get enough oxygen or nutrients via the blood, the cells within can die causing irreversible brain damage.1
The effects of stroke are different for every person, depending on where the damage occurs in the brain and to what extent. Common outcomes include paralysis on either side of the body, speech and swallowing difficulties and/or problems with hearing and eyesight. For some a stroke can be fatal.1
High blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and excessive drinking can all make you more susceptible1, and yes, the older you are the more likely a stroke is to occur – the majority of strokes occur in people aged over 553. To reduce your risk of stroke it's important to exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight and diet, limit alcohol consumption and avoid smoking1.
Stroke is a medical emergency therefore it is vital that anyone experiencing symptoms of a stroke receives immediate medical attention. But how can you tell? A simple way to recognise stroke is to take a good look at the person affected and use the FAST acronym to detect and act upon the warning signs:
Face – has their mouth drooped?
Arms – can they lift their arms?
Speech – is their speech slurred? Can they understand you?
Time – is critical. If you see any of these signs, no matter how long they last, call 000 immediately.1
MedicAlert® membership is invaluable for those who are at high risk of a stroke or experience side effects after suffering a stroke, such as speech and thinking difficulties. A genuine MedicAlert medical ID, worn around your wrist or neck, can communicate your vital health information to those who need to know. Each MedicAlert medical ID is inscribed with our 24/7 hotline number that first responders can call in an emergency, if they need further information held on file.
Essentially, MedicAlert membership offers peace of mind not only for those who wear the medical ID but also for family and friends who want to ensure the safety of loved ones.
A stroke can have a devastating effect on the individual, family and friends. Understand the risk factors, know the signs and get help quickly. Remember, prevention is better than the cure.
For more information on stroke, please visit strokefoundation.com.au or to find out how MedicAlert Foundation can protect you, or a loved one, please visit medicalert.org.au; it’s best to act now.
- 1Stroke Foundation 2012, The National Stroke Foundation, Australia, viewed 5 September 2012, <http://strokefoundation.com.au/>.
- 2Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2006, The National Stroke Foundation, Australia, viewed 5 September 2012, <http://strokefoundation.com.au/>.
- 3AIHW 2006, The National Stroke Foundation, Australia, viewed 5 September 2012, <http://strokefoundation.com.au/>.