Stroke hap­pens to young peo­ple too

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Bruce Camp­bell

DO you ever think about your brain and just how amaz­ing it is? Chances are you prob­a­bly think more about that few ex­tra ki­los you put on over win­ter or that pesky pim­ple that sprung up overnight. While your brain is not as vis­i­ble, do not take it for granted. It is your con­trol cen­tre. It’s re­spon­si­ble for ev­ery­thing you do from the way you think, move and speak. Most peo­ple don’t think of stroke in young peo­ple. Think Again! Now, what if some­thing were to hap­pen to your brain? Can you imag­ine the im­pact that would have on your life – and on those who loved you most? This is what those who have a stroke con­tend with. Stroke can turn lives up­side down in an in­stant.

In­ter­na­tional ev­i­dence shows that this ter­ri­ble dis­ease can hap­pen in young peo­ple. • Strokes are on the in­crease in younger peo­ple.

• Around a quar­ter of strokes hap­pen in peo­ple of work­ing age.

• The av­er­age age of stroke has de­creased in re­cent years.

• Stroke can even hap­pen in teenagers, chil­dren and ba­bies, but this is not widely recog­nised in the com­mu­nity. It is one of Aus­tralia’s big­gest killers and a lead­ing cause of dis­abil­ity.


• Around 20 strokes a day are hap­pen­ing to peo­ple of work­ing age.

• One in three stroke sur­vivors is un­der the age of 65 (142,000).

• 25 per­cent of strokes in younger peo­ple are un­ex­plained. Too many young Aus­tralians are hav­ing strokes. They are un­ex­pected and can strike at a time when peo­ple are just start­ing to lay the foun­da­tions for their fu­ture. In­de­pen­dence can be lost, fam­i­lies can be thrown into tur­moil and ca­reers can be cut short. Ev­ery el­e­ment of life can be im­pacted. But the good news is, for many, stroke can be pre­vented, it can be treated and it can be beaten.


A stroke oc­curs when blood sup­ply to the brain is sud­denly cut off, block­ing the

Stroke can be pre­vented, it can be treated & it can be beaten.

oxy­gen sup­ply or when an artery bursts in the brain.

In the May/June 2018 edi­tion of Great Health GuideTM, I dis­cussed the im­por­tance of pre­vent­ing stroke by adopt­ing a healthy life style and un­der­stand­ing your stroke risk. Start healthy life­style habits as early as pos­si­ble and con­tinue these habits through­out your life. Also look at your fam­ily his­tory and see whether there may be any ge­netic fac­tors which can pre­dis­pose you to a greater risk of stroke.


Over the past two decades, ad­vances in the di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment of stroke have led to a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in lives lost. Re­cov­er­ing from a stroke can be a long and chal­leng­ing jour­ney, both phys­i­cally and men­tally, but many peo­ple are able to re­turn to work, en­joy their favourite pas­times and live life well again. For this to hap­pen, stroke must be treated quickly.


The faster you seek treat­ment for stroke, the bet­ter your out­come. Too of­ten we hear of young peo­ple who ex­pe­ri­ence stroke symp­toms and then go to bed. Up to 1.9 mil­lion brain cells die each minute after a stroke, so while they sleep, more dam­age is be­ing done.

Know the FAST signs of stroke and share them widely. You could save a life.

Face – Check their face. Has their mouth drooped? Arms – Can they lift both arms?

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

Time – Time is crit­i­cal. If you see any of these signs, call your emer­gency num­ber in your coun­try im­me­di­ately. (000 in Aus­tralia; 911 in USA; 999 In UK.) We can have the best paramedics, the best doc­tors and the best nurses on hand, but that means noth­ing un­less the signs of stroke are rec­og­nized. The symp­toms may even last for a few min­utes, but time is cru­cial. Rec­og­nize the symp­toms and get to hospi­tal quickly.


As in ev­ery­day life, so­cial me­dia plays a role in the re­cov­ery of many young stroke sur­vivors.

Stroke Foun­da­tion has es­tab­lished an in­no­va­tive on­line re­source for sur­vivors and their fam­i­lies called

www.en­ It gives them a voice and pro­vides in­for­ma­tion and sup­port. It con­nects peo­ple who un­der­stand each other.

• StrokeLine (1800 787 653) is an­other amaz­ing re­source, which is the only ded­i­cated helpline for stroke sur­vivors and their fam­i­lies in Aus­tralia.


There is one stroke ev­ery nine min­utes in Aus­tralia. At the cur­rent rate of growth, by 2050 there will be one ev­ery four min­utes, but it does not have to be this way. Pre­ven­tion and early de­tec­tion are the keys to stem­ming the tide and re­duc­ing the num­ber of lives im­pacted by stroke in young peo­ple. As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Bruce Camp­bell is the Chair of the Stroke Foun­da­tion Clin­i­cal Coun­cil. He is a con­sul­tant neu­rol­o­gist and Head of Hyper­a­cute Stroke at the Royal Mel­bourne Hospi­tal as well as a prin­ci­pal re­search fel­low in the De­part­ment of Medicine, Mel­bourne Brain Cen­tre at the Royal Mel­bourne Hospi­tal, Uni­ver­sity of Mel­bourne.

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