STROKE & YOUNG PEOPLE
Stroke happens to young people too
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.
THE FACTS ON STROKE IN YOUNG PEOPLE IN AUSTRALIA:
• 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.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PREVENT STROKE?
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.
TIME EQUALS BRAIN OUTCOME.
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.
WHAT HELP IS AVAILABLE AFTER STROKE?
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.enableme.org.au. 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.