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Take a quiz and save a life - Stroke Awareness Week

Stroke Foundation media release 5 September 2013

Take a quiz and save a life - Stroke Awareness Week 9-15 September

The Stroke Foundation has launched two new online resources – a quiz and a Facebook page - for Stroke Awareness Week (9-15 September) to help spread the FAST stroke recognition message.

The StrokeWise interactive quiz at www.stroke.org.nz/FASTquiz tests your knowledge of stroke symptoms and what to do if you suspect someone is having a stroke.

The Foundation has also launched a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/StrokeFoundationNZ. Anyone with experience of or interest in stroke, personal or professional, can share information, ask questions, learn more and connect with others.

Stroke Foundation CEO Mark Vivian said: “Time and again we hear stories of people not getting to hospital in time because the signs of a stroke went unrecognised. We need to use every tool at our disposal to spread the FAST stroke recognition message and these new internet resources will target people through a medium that so many of us use every day. I urge everyone to try them out and share them as widely as possible.

“Around 9000 people in New Zealand have a stroke each year – an average of 24 every day. One day it could be someone near you, a friend or a family member. Would you know what was happening and what to do?”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

FAST stands for Face Arms Speech Time:

Face – Look at the person’s face and ask them to try and smile; is one side drooping?

Arms – Ask them to raise both arms; is one side weak?

Speech – Ask them to say something simple; are they unable to speak or are the words jumbled or slurred?

Time – Act FAST and call 111. Time lost may mean brain lost.

By memorising this simple symptom check everyone should be able to recognise a stroke and get the person to hospital where they can potentially receive vital treatment to reduce brain damage or even save their life.

More information at www.stroke.org.nz/FAST .

STROKE FACTS AND FIGURES

• Stroke is the third largest killer in New Zealand after heart disease and cancer.

• Each year around 9,000 people have a stroke – that’s around 24 New Zealanders every day.

• Each year over 2,500 people die from stroke

• Disabilities from stroke make it one of the highest consumers of hospital beds, services and community support in this country.

• There are an estimated 60,000 stroke survivors in New Zealand, many of whom have disability and need significant daily support.

• A stroke is a sudden interruption of blood flow to the brain, causing brain cell damage. Basically, it is a brain attack.

• Up to half of all stroke cases could be treated with clot-busting drugs if they arrive within three hours of the stroke’s onset at a hospital where they can be scanned and given the drugs. In many cases this can reduce the damage done by the stroke or even reverse the symptoms entirely. All stroke patients can benefit from stroke unit care to maximise recovery and prevent recurrence of stroke.

Recognising stroke symptoms

• Delayed recognition of a stroke means delayed medical intervention – which can have tragic consequences, including further damage to the brain or death.

• In 2007 and 2010, the Stroke Foundation commissioned research to assess the general public’s ability to recognise the signs of stroke and to act appropriately if a stroke is suspected.

• The results from both surveys showed that at least one third of New Zealanders were unable to recognise even one sign of stroke.

• Only about 10 percent of respondents could recognise three correct signs of stroke.

Act FAST

The FAST acronym was developed by stroke researchers in the United States as an effective way for people to recognise three key stroke symptoms and to act fast if a stroke is suspected. Subsequent evaluation of the FAST message by researchers in the US found it sufficient to pick up 88.9 percent of strokes and TIAs (mini strokes).

Other international evaluations of FAST have found that it is an effective mnemonic for increasing and retaining knowledge of the key signs of stroke and the importance of acting fast.

Large scale mass-media publicity campaigns to spread the FAST message have been launched successfully in several countries, including the UK, Australia and the USA. Australia recently announced a further A$2million extension to their campaign. Evaluations in Australia, the UK and Ireland have shown increased public recognition of stroke symptoms and increased stroke calls to emergency services following advertising campaign activity.

For more information on stroke see www.stroke.org.nz


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