Bundaberg residents Denise and Max McGaw have shared their personal experience with stroke to raise awareness of symptoms and prevention options.
Denise knows all too well how quickly action is needed in the case of a stroke, as her husband Max has suffered two strokes.
Max’s first stroke occurred while the couple was travelling in 2004, with his second one occurring in 2006.
“Unfortunately, when my husband Max had his first stroke we were about six hours out of Darwin as we were travelling in a van but he had no headache, no pain, no nothing,” Denise said.
“His second stroke was a crescendo stroke, which lasted a week and got progressively worse.
“I knew the stroke symptoms but he again had no headache and his blood pressure was normal, but it was only to the fact that we had the appointment with the specialist as he had trouble walking.
“The specialist looked at him and said, you have had another stroke and put him straight in hospital.”
While Denise was aware of the symptoms of a stroke, she said it was important people also took measures in their own lives to do what they could to prevent a possible stroke.
“It is very important for people to know the warning signs of stroke, while also doing what you can to reduce the risk of a stroke happening,” Denise said.
She said people should familiarise themselves with the F.A.S.T acronym – face, arms, speech, time – as it could save a life.
“When I was a StrokeSafe ambassador, I was always very shocked by how many people didn’t know the F.A.S.T. signs and speaking to people was something small I could do to change that,” she said.
“Things have changed so much that if you can catch early enough the treatment can be far more effective.
“It’s a simple, very easy acronym to remember and it could one day save a life.”
Thinking fast can be the difference between a person surviving a stroke or not and it can play a big role in whether that person has a good recovery of is left with long-term disability.
Denise said while catching a stroke early could change the outcome, supporting someone through the rehab process can be challenging, encouraging anyone who may be going through it to remain positive.
“It takes a lot of patience to support someone who has had a stroke, both for the person that has had the stroke and the family,” she said.
“Your whole life changes and it is not easy, rehab can take years, so do not give up after six months if it is not going as smoothly as you may have hoped.
“You have to keep a positive attitude.
“No two strokes are the same.”
Foundation encourages residents to be stroke aware
Recent research from the Stroke Foundation shows that only 22 per cent of the Hinkler population, around 27,404 people, are physically active in any given one-week period.
Physical inactivity can increase the risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity, all of which are key risk factors of stroke.
Stroke Foundation Acting Chief Executive Officer Dr Lisa Murphy says while this level of inactivity is worrying, the good news was it could be changed.
She encouraged residents to get moving.
“Just a bit of physical activity each day can go a long way in reducing your risk of stroke and its associated risk factors,” Dr Murphy says.
“Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on all, if not, most days of the week.”
While Hinkler residents currently sit behind other electorates when it comes to physical activity, the Stroke Foundation said they were improving significantly when it came to knowing the risks of stroke and being stroke aware.
Research has revealed the Hinkler electorate’s awareness of high blood pressure as a modifiable risk factor of stroke increased by 14 per cent and awareness of high cholesterol increased by 12 percent when compared to 2020 which is higher than
“It is fantastic that Hinkler residents know the risks of stroke but they need to go one step further and reduce their risk by getting active,” Dr Murphy says.
“Exercise and eating healthily are two ways of lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure.”
The research also found 71 per cent of Hinkler residents could recall at least two of the F.A.S.T signs of stroke.
Click here for more information on F.A.S.T and the signs of stroke.
More information to be stroke aware and physical activity can be found here.
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