What women need to know about stroke

An Australian Institute of Health report has found strokes are the number one killer among Australian women, responsible for taking the lives of more women than even breast cancer.

The report stated strokes are the leading cause of premature death and severe disability in Queensland.

According to the home doctor team at House Call Doctor, it is paramount that people are aware and alert to the signs of a stroke and respond immediately. A swift response could mean the difference between life and death.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when there is an interruption of blood flow to the brain. In most cases, it is an abrupt blockage of an artery leading to the brain. At other times, it can be caused by brain tissue bleeding when a blood vessel bursts. The effects of a stroke greatly vary, depending on which area of the brain is damaged.

Who is most at risk?

Queensland Health claims 80 per cent of strokes can be prevented, with the following factors significantly contributing to risk:

  • Overweight or obesity
  • Smoking
  • Physical inactivity
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • High fat and salt diet.

The signs

Symptoms include:

  • Weakness or numbness in the face, arm, leg or both or either side of the body
  • Sudden and severe dizziness
  • An unexplained fall due to loss of balance
  • Sudden loss or blurriness of vision
  • Abrupt onset of a headache
  • Difficulty swallowing.

F.A.S.T is a useful way to remember the protocol of what to do when you suspect someone is suffering from a stroke:

F – Face. Check their face. Has their mouth dropped?

A – Arms. Can they lift both arms?

S – Speech. Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?

T – Time. If you see any of these signs, call 000 straight away.