World Stroke Day
NOTE: The following is an op-ed piece by Neala Gill, Cardiovascular Health Nova Scotia.
Friday, Oct. 29 is World Stroke Day. It is an opportunity to encourage Nova Scotians to learn more about the signs of a stroke, and what you can do to reduce your risk.
One in six people will have a stroke in their lifetime. Strokes can occur in people of all ages, and all walks of life. However, they are more common in older people.
Stroke is a preventable disease. The World Stroke Organization has identified six key steps that anyone can take to reduce their risk of stroke. These are:
- Know your personal risk factors: high blood pressure, diabetes and high blood cholesterol
- Be physically active
- Maintain a healthy diet and manage your weight
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Quit smoking or never start
- Learn to recognize the warning signs of stroke.
The government is working hard to help Nova Scotians take these steps to better health. We have committed to reducing rates of chronic disease, and we will establish clear and measurable targets to help us get there.
In a September meeting, provincial, territorial and federal ministers of health made a commitment to addressing childhood obesity and reducing sodium in the diet of Canadians.
Work is already underway on a Nova Scotia childhood obesity prevention strategy, which, along with other initiatives such as reducing smoking rates and harmful alcohol use, will have lasting positive effects on the health of Nova Scotians.
Cardiovascular Health Nova Scotia, a provincial program of the Department of Health, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia have supported a public awareness campaign to help Nova Scotians learn the warning signs of stroke and what to do if they or someone they know are experiencing a stroke.
The warning signs are:
- Sudden weakness, usually on one side of the body
- Sudden trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Sudden vision troubles
- Sudden, severe headache
- Sudden dizziness or loss of balance, especially with any of the above signs.
If you, or someone you know, experience any of these signs, call 911 or go to your local hospital immediately.
In Canada, about 50,000 people are hospitalized for stroke every year. That is one stroke every 10 minutes. About 1,500 of those strokes happen to Nova Scotians. World Stroke Day is an important opportunity to remind the health care community, those at risk, and the public that strokes can be treated. Take the time to learn the signs of stroke today. It can save your life or the life of a loved one tomorrow.