Stroke prevention – what can you do?
One in four people will have a stroke in their lifetime. A stroke is caused by a sudden interruption in the blood supply to the brain and impacts on your ability to move, feel, and think.
According to Associate Professor Seana Gall from the University of Tasmania and Stroke Foundation Clinical Council member there will be more than 56,000 strokes in Australia this year.
‘But there is hope – and it is called prevention,’ said Ms Gall.
‘Around 80 per cent of strokes can be prevented, and we can all take simple steps to reduce our risk:
- Get your blood pressure checked regularly. Blood pressure is the key risk factor for stroke, but it can be managed. The number of strokes would be practically cut in half (48 per cent) if high blood pressure alone were eliminated.
- Manage your cholesterol – High cholesterol contributes to blood-vessel disease, which can lead to stroke.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet – avoid sugary drinks and cut the salt.
- Exercise regularly – Inactivity causes weight gain and contributes to high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- Quit smoking – Smokers have twice the risk of having a stroke than non-smokers.
- Only drink alcohol in moderation – Drinking large amounts of alcohol increases your stroke risk through increased blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation).
‘Remember this list and take your first steps towards reducing your stroke risk in 2019. It could save your life.’
How to identify a stroke
If you think someone is having a stroke the Stroke Foundation recommends you use the FAST test to quickly check for the common signs of a stroke.
Using the FAST test involves asking these simple questions:
Face: Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
Arms: Can they lift both arms?
Speech: Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time: Is critical. If you see any of these signs call 000 straightaway.
Other signs that someone is having a stroke that can occur along with or in combination include:
- Weakness, numbness, or paralysis of the face, arm, or leg on either or both sides of the body
- Difficulty speaking or understanding
- Dizziness, loss of balance, or an unexplained fall
- Loss of vision, sudden blurring, or decreased vision in one or both eyes
- Headache, usually severe and abrupt onset or unexplained change in the pattern of headaches
- Difficulty swallowing
If you suspect someone is having a stroke then make sure you call for help straightaway on 000. A stroke can cause brain damage and the longer it is left untreated the more likely it is that this will happen.