Facilitated by the Stroke Foundation, Stroke Week will see a range of activities, community events and free health checks by volunteer organisations and businesses. Schools, workplaces and communities can register for Stroke Week to receive free materials to help promote or support their activity. Last year there were close to 3,500 events held nationwide.
John De Rango, Stroke Foundation’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, says stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel is blocked by a clot, or the vessel bursts, and can’t supply oxygen and nutrients to the brain, is an important issue to raise awareness of as 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by making small lifestyle changes.
He adds that it is estimated to affect one in six people in their lifetime, also highlighting that reacting quickly not only influences the treatment for a person having a stroke, but also their path to recovery.
“While there are some risk factors that can’t be controlled, like ageing, there are many changes people can make to their lives to reduce their stroke risk,” he says.
“The key factor for stroke is high blood pressure. The Stroke Foundation is urging people to make the time to see their doctor for a regular health check to assess their blood pressure, cholesterol level and risk of type 2 diabetes and atrial fibrillation.
“These risk factors can be managed.”
During the week there will be registered SiSU digital health stations at pharmacies and medical centres across the country to measure blood pressure, weight, body mass index (BMI), percentage body fat and heart rate. Free online resources will also be available.
“Prevention is the key to curbing the rate of stroke in Australia, but people must firstly understand their stroke risk, take steps to reduce it and then stay motivated to keep their risk level low,” Mr De Rango says.
During National Stroke Week, groups or communities of more than 20 people can request a StrokeSafe speaker to speak at their event free of charge. Many of the volunteer speakers have had a stroke themselves, or are close to someone who has, providing powerful, personal experiences, along with general information and prevention measures.
Mr De Rango says the Stroke Foundation expects there to be close to 56,000 strokes in Australia this year alone, reminding Australians it can strike at any age and has a significant impact on individuals and their families.
“There is one stroke every nine minutes in Australia,” he says.
“It is one of our biggest killers and a leading cause of disability. It kills more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer.”
With strokes happening in an instant, quick access to medical treatment is crucial to a person’s outcome. Each minute a stroke is left untreated, he says a patient loses around 1.9 million neurons. With the correct treatment in those crucial minutes, people are able to make a full recovery.
For more information, or to register for Stroke Week, visit the Stroke Foundation website.