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A Kiwi Suffers A Stroke Every Hour


Friday, November 6, 2009


National summit tackles stroke findings; every hour Kiwi suffers stroke

Top New Zealand researchers are due to present findings from three of the most comprehensive studies into stroke prevention and rehabilitation in Auckland next week, as they refine strategies to address the country’s concerning rise in stroke rates and ethnic disparities.

Director of the National Research Centre for Stroke, Applied Neurosciences and Neurorehabilitation at AUT University, Professor Valery Feigin says the summit will provide direction for the future development in management and prevention of stroke in New Zealand.

“Our stroke rates are four times worse than other developed countries with over 32,000 people suffering a stroke each year,” he says, “and every hour someone in New Zealand is struck by a new stroke.”

The ARCOS (Auckland Regional Community Stoke) studies are said to be the largest and most ethnically diverse of their kind and Feigin says absolutely crucial for evidence-based healthcare planning in the area of stroke in this country.

The CEO of the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand, Mark Vivian, welcomes the summit. 

"Its time we looked at the cost of stroke in both human and dollar terms.  Cost effective primary and secondary prevention and rehabilitation will save New Zealand hundreds of millions of dollars," he says.

Feigin, who will be presenting his most recent research findings at the summit, says that evidence shows that at least 85 per cent of strokes can be avoided.

“If we implement primary prevention strategies we can save as much as $150 million a year.”

Currently each stroke patient costs the country well beyond the commonly floated figure of $25,000 – which, in many cases, fails to quantify the cost of care needed until the person dies.

Two new stroke rehabilitation models will be unveiled at the summit – the first a hospital-based initiative, the second a residential initiative which focuses on reintegrating stroke sufferers back into the community. 

Both models have been designed and developed by the WDHB and the Laura Fergusson Trust respectively, with assistance from AUT University.

Of equal concern is the alarming growth in Maori and Pacific Island stroke rates of 20 and 66 per cent respectively, which puts them on a par with developing countries and the failing of our secondary stroke prevention strategies.

"The rate of stroke re-occurrence has not changed over the last 20 years,” says Feigin.

Stroke is the third largest killer in New Zealand, behind cancer and heart disease.

”Gaining a better understanding of the disparities that exist in this country as well as looking to international best practices in stroke prevention and rehabilitation are great places to start,” he adds.

Ruth Bonita, principle investigator in the first two ARCOS and world renowned stroke specialist - having spent 10 years at the World Health Organisation overseeing stroke epidemiology and prevention programmes - will open the summit.

Kiwi comedian Mike King will share his personal experiences having suffered a stroke a few years ago.

Those attending the ARCOS summit include; key healthcare policy decision makers from the Ministry of Health, Disability Service as well as the Laura Ferguson Trust and the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand.  Healthcare workers from local DHB’s and other community organisations working with stroke patients and their families will also attend.

The summit will be held at AUT University’s new lecture theatre complex located on its North Shore campus from 8.30am until 4.00pm on Monday, November 9. 

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