Curing the problem one stroke at a time
WHILE National Stroke Week may be over for another year, the effects of stroke do not have an end date for many in our region.
One of Australia’s biggest killers and a leading cause of disability, stroke has left its devastating imprint on far too many lives in Kyabram and beyond.
Kyabram’s Gwenda Smith was just one local whose life was irreparably altered by the medical emergency.
Suffering a stroke in 2008 when she was 65, Gwenda was left with one side weakened and difficulties with expressive communication.
Throughout the subsequent years, Gwenda’s husband John walked beside her as she struggled to adjust to the changes.
What were formerly simple activities such as showering, dressing, getting in and out of bed and being involved in the community were suddenly agonisingly difficult.
In many ways, Gwenda – with John always by her side – had to return to square one, re-educating her altered body to carry out everyday tasks.
“It is a lifelong journey following a stroke – but John says he wouldn’t have it any other way,” Kyabram District Health Services (KDHS) primary health care manager Courtney Baxter said.
“He would do it all again for Gwen. He’s continuing to seek out ways to meet her needs so she can live a full and fruitful life as she did before her stroke.”
John Smith encourages locals to learn more about the long term impacts a stroke can have on the individual, as well as carers and family.
As part of stroke week, KDHS has worked to raise awareness of these impacts in addition to educating people on the signs of stroke: One side of the face drooping, muscle weakness on one side of the body and speech difficulties.
Strokes occur when the supply of blood to the brain is suddenly disrupted, and the longer it remains untreated, the greater the brain damage.
With stroke an everlooming threat in Campaspe Shire, Ms Baxter can’t press the importance of stroke awareness enough – or the need to tackle preventable risks.
“The Campaspe population has a substantially poorer health and wellbeing status compared to the regional and state averages for Victoria, in particular in relation to high blood pressure (36.8 per cent compared to 25.9 per cent) and smoking rates (21.9 per cent compared to 13.1 per cent),” Ms Baxter said.
“Avoidable deaths in Campaspe associated with cardiovascular system diseases – which is inclusive of stroke – is significantly higher at 49.3 per cent compared to 33.7 per cent for the state average.”
“If you have concerns about your blood pressure and risk for stroke speak with your local doctor.”