It may surprise many people to know that stroke kills more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer. It’s the second biggest cause of death in Australia after heart disease and a leading cause of disability. In fact, there’s one stroke every 10 minutes, which equals 1,000 every week and 50,000 a year.

What is stroke?

A stroke happens when not enough blood flows to the brain, due to a blood vessel (artery) either becoming blocked or bursting open. Blood provides oxygen and food to the brain. Without enough blood, brain cells begin to die.

Stroke may cause permanent brain damage leading to disability that may affect walking, feeding, speaking, memory and other functions. The most severe cases cause death.

Factors that increase your risk of stroke include: high blood pressure, unhealthy blood cholesterol, being overweight, lack of exercise, drinking excess alcohol and smoking.

What to do?

A stroke is a medical emergency that requires a call to 000 straight away. Medical treatment provided as quickly as possible after a stroke starts can get blood flowing again to the brain and prevent death or disability.

You can help decide if a stroke is happening for yourself, a loved one or friend. Check for the warning signs of a stroke in the following FAST test:

Face  Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
Arm  Can they lift both arms?
Speech  Is their speech (speaking) slurred? Do they understand you?
Time  Is critical. If you see any of these signs, call 000 straight away.

Other warning signs of a stroke can include: numbness, paralysis, difficulty understanding, dizziness, balance problem, unexplained fall, sudden vision problems, headaches and difficulty swallowing. They can last a few seconds or up to 24 hours, and then disappear.

More information: strokefoundation.com.au 1800 787 653

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