Don’t hang about

DON’T let the pandemic put you off calling triple zero if you think you are having a stroke, says the Stroke Foundation’s Erin Godecke. 

After a stroke, 1.9 million brain cells die each minute, but people with symptoms aren’t calling 000 because they are worried about catching covid at hospital or putting unnecessary pressure on the under-strain health service. 

“Stroke is always a time-critical medical emergency,” Prof Godecke says.

“After a stroke 1.9 million brain cells die each minute, but medical treatment can stop this damage. 

“A delay in hospital presentation can lead to lengthier hospital stays, more serious disability or even death. 

If you, or someone with you, displays any of the FAST signs of stroke (Face, Arms, Speech, Time), call triple zero at the first sign. You could save a life.”

The FAST acronym helps people recognise the most common signs of a stroke: 

• 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 straight away.

“Every stroke is different depending on where it strikes in the brain and how severe it is,” Prof Godecke says.

“Stroke can impact people physically and also cause issues with fatigue, memory, communication or sensory loss and depression.

“Recovery from stroke can be challenging and ongoing.”

The good news is that 80 per cent of strokes can be prevented by managing blood pressure and cholesterol and leading a healthy, active lifestyle.

Mr Godecke says stroke survivors should be extremely wary of covid.

“They are more vulnerable to the serious consequences of covid-19 infection, meaning vaccinating against it is very important,” she says. 

“I urge survivors to talk to their doctor about the vaccine to ensure they find out what the best course of action is in their individual circumstances.”

For more information and help go to the website http://www.strokefoundation.org.au

Top 10 stroke facts

 • There were 27,428 Australians who experienced stroke for the first time in their lives this year, which equates to one stroke every 19 minutes.

• One in four people globally will have a stroke in their lifetime.

• More than 445,087 Australians are living with the effects of stroke.

• Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers. It kills more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer.

• In 2020, the estimated cost of stroke in Australia was $6.2 billion in direct financial impact, and a further $26 billion in mortality and lost wellbeing.

• More than 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.

• In 2020, 6535 (24 per cent of total) first-ever strokes occurred in people aged 54 years and under.

• Regional Australians are 17 percent more likely to suffer a stroke than those in metropolitan areas.

• When a stroke strikes, it attacks up to 1.9 million brain cells per minute.

• Without action by 2050 it is predicted that the number of first-ever strokes experienced by Australians annually will increase to 50,600, or one stroke every 10 minutes, and there will be 819,900 survivors of stroke living in the community.

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