Be Stroke Smart

Be Stroke Smart

30 October 2018

Did you know that every day in South Africa approximately 270 people have a stroke and that it kills an estimated 6.2 million people around the globe each year?Experts warn that about a third of those who have a stroke will die, and a quarter will be left with life changing disability.

Naturally, because you’re young, healthy, and don’t smoke … you probably haven’t given it a whole lot of thought whether you’re at risk or not. Just like driving slow in the fast lane – its stuff only old people need to worry about, right? Wrong.

According to The National Stroke Association, stroke can happen to anyone at any time. An interesting fact is that women have a higher stroke mortality rate than men; six in ten stroke deaths occur in women.

A stroke is essentially a “brain attack.” The supply of blood and oxygen to the brain can be cut off because of a blockage or damage to a blood vessel in the brain. This causes the brain cells to die, which can be fatal or result in disability.

True, age is a major risk factor for having a stroke – in fact, the risk doubles after age 55, but statistics show a steep increase of stroke by a staggering 44% in people between the ages of 25 and 44! It can, and does, happen to anyone. Why? Well, high blood pressure, smoking, a diet rich in fatty foods and sugary drinks, combined with insufficient exercise, unfortunately describe the lifestyle of too many South Africans and make us more at risk of stroke.

Stroke is a medical emergency and it always causes brain damage. And, whether this is slight, severe, or fatal, depends on how serious the stroke is and how quickly treatment occurs. In the stroke field they say: “Time is brain.” Every minute counts and therefore it is crucial to act FAST. The sad truth is that almost 60% of stroke patients don’t get to a doctor or hospital until 24 hours after the stroke. Many South Africans simply are not aware of the signs and symptoms, and therefore don’t seek help in time, with off course, devastating consequences.

According to the American Heart Association, the acronym F.A.S.T is an easy way to recognize the signs of a stroke:

Face: Is one side of the face or body drooping?

Arms: Raise both arms, is one side weak?

Speech: Is the person able to speak? Are words jumbled or slurred?

Time: is of the essence. Time saved is brain function saved.

So, be on the lookout for sudden weakness and numbness in the face, arms or legs on the one side of the body. Unexplained dizziness, loss of balance, or a sudden severe headache should also be a red flag going up.

The best treatment is prevention and the good news is that up to 80% of heart disease and stroke could be prevented by choosing a healthy lifestyle.

29 October is Stroke Awareness Day and the key is acting fast. Knowing the signs and symptoms, could save someone’s life.


DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.

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