Stroke is known as the ‘silent killer’ – here’s how to catch the early signs

Reacting promptly and knowledgeably can save lives.

Often referred to as the ‘silent killer’, stroke is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It occurs “when blood cannot get to your brain, because of a blocked or burst artery. As a result, your brain cells die due to a lack of oxygen and nutrients,” as per the Stroke Foundation

Strokes can have long-term health impacts. Data from the Australian Stroke Clinical Registry has revealed that three in four patients experience problems with mobility, self-care, performing usual activities, pain and discomfort, anxiety, and depression – according to Monash University researcher, Professor Cadilhac.

With this in mind, it’s important to be aware of the early signs. 

How to detect stroke symptoms

Monash University researcher Dr Dalli recommends raising awareness about stroke with your family and friends, so they can recognise symptoms and act FAST.

FAST translates to::

  • F – FACE: Is the person’s face drooped?
  • A – ARMS: Can the person raise their arms? Is there arm weakness or numbness?
  • S – SPEECH: Is the person’s speech slurred or confused?
  • T – TIME: Seeking prompt medical care is critical when a stroke occurs, with >1.9 million neurons destroyed per minute treatment is delayed. 

Measuring blood pressure with blood pressure manometer, sphygmomanometer.

While acting FAST is the best we can do when we are made aware of the signs, it is much better to prevent a stroke in the first place. The good news is that up to 90 per cent of strokes are preventable. Here’s how. 

How to prevent a stroke

Prevention is key to reducing the burden of stroke, says Monash University researcher Professor Kilkenny.

Consider implementing changes in your lifestyle to reduce your risk,” adds Dr Dalli.

Such changes include:

  • Reducing unhealthy foods in your diet.
  • Quitting smoking.
  • Increasing your physical activity.
  • Having your blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol checked regularly by a doctor, and working towards keeping them in a normal range.

But it isn’t completely up to individuals, says Professor Kilkenny. Prevention and management can improve “by securing financial commitment from governments through taxing tobacco, alcohol, salt and sugar”.

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