August 9, 2023

Fighting stroke together

This week is National Stroke Week – an annual event to encourage the community to fight stroke together.

Fighting stroke together aims to bring people together to share knowledge, support and resources to help prevent strokes from occurring and to aid in the recovery process for those who’ve experienced 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 also contains oxygen and important nutrients for 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.

In the event of a stroke, everyone is urged to become familiar with the ‘F.A.S.T.’ signs of a stroke.

  • Face – Has the face drooped?
  • Arms – Can arms be raised?
  • Speech – Is speech slurred or confused?
  • Time – Time is critical – call Triple Zero (000) urgently.

According to the Stroke Foundation, an Australian will have a stroke every 19 minutes. More than 445,000 Australians are living with the effects of stroke, while regional Australians are 17 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke than those living in metropolitan areas.

Smoking, high cholesterol levels, poor diet, lack of exercise and high blood pressure are among the lifestyle factors that can contribute to a stroke. Liz Mackey, Stroke Nurse Practitioner at Northern Health, said while factors such as age, gender and family history cannot be controlled, basic lifestyle changes can help to prevent a stroke.

“There is no time to waste. We urge you to stop reaching for the salt or sugary drinks. Walk an extra block to work or take the stairs instead of the lift. These small steps can go a long way to reducing your stroke risk,” she said.

Northern Health has a large specialist multidisciplinary stroke team. At Northern Hospital Epping, there is an Acute Stroke Unit on Ward 21, with a Stroke High Dependency Unit that can provide lifesaving stroke treatment with ‘Clot Buster’ medication.

“We have a specialised rehabilitation service that offers intensive stroke specific rehabilitation – both inpatient and with the Early Stroke Discharge program, and outpatient clinics, therapy and services,” Liz said.

“Our patients have access to education for stroke risk reduction.”

During the week, blood pressure checks will be offered to staff at Northern Hospital Epping foyer, 1.30 pm to 2. 30 pm, until Friday, 11 August.

“We’d love to meet with you to talk about stroke and stroke risk reduction or come along to see the display for fighting stroke together,” Liz said.

Featured image: Liz Mackey, Stroke Nurse Practitioner.

Broadmeadows Hospital Stroke Week display and Early Stroke Discharge team members