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Impacts of stroke can be reduced

Impacts of stroke can be reduced

Late in 2005 the Stroke Foundation began distributing a business card with four simple pictures on it and the barest minimum text. The pictures show a face, someone holding their arms out, someone speaking and a timepiece. The card provides a test to possibly identify if someone may be having a stroke. "In the past year we have been told repeatedly that these cards have saved lives and limited the impacts of strokes," says Mark Vivian, Chief Executive of the Stroke Foundation.

The Stroke Foundation has distributed more than 250,000 of these F.A.S.T. cards. Everyone who donates to the Foundation's street appeal this week will be given a FAST card. "It may save theirs or someone else's life," says Mr Vivian.

"These FAST cards are so simple and so effective. The message we want to get across this week is also simple – if you think you or someone else is having a stroke get a medical assessment fast. The quicker someone gets to a doctor the less likely the stroke is to be fatal, and the less likely the long term impacts," says Mr Vivian.

"The evidence suggests that since we started distributing these cards, the impacts of stroke have been reduced. People who otherwise would have delayed getting to a doctor have received help quickly, and the effects of a stroke have been reduced."

The Stroke Foundation is the national charity working to educate the public about ways to reduce the risk of strokes, improve health services in acute and rehabilitation medicine, and provide services for stroke survivors and caregivers in the community. This week is their annual awareness and appeal week.

"All our material is developed in consultation with New Zealand's leading neurologists and geriatricians. "We are extremely lucky with the support we receive from our medical advisors," says Mr Vivian.

"The quality and breadth of resources that the Stroke Foundation has produced for people with stroke in New Zealand is simply amazing when you consider the absolutely meagre budget that they have to work with. Imagine what they could achieve with better funding," says Dr Harry McNaughton, the Foundation's Honorary Medical Director.

The Foundation has set up a texting facility this year in addition to street collectors throughout the country. "People can text the word STROKE to 469 to make a $3 donation, or phone our 0800 78 76 53 number, or donate to a street collector."


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