This Stroke Risk Awareness Month we are posing the question – Are you at risk of stroke?
Are you aware that stroke is the third most common cause of death in Australian men, ranking higher than prostate cancer, and the second most common cause of death in women, ranking higher than breast cancer.
There’s a common misconception that stroke only occurs later in life, to older people.
However, this isn’t true. While age is certainly a risk factor, stroke doesn’t discriminate and can affect anyone, even the young and healthy.
Lisa, 35, Brisbane, was only 24 years old when she experienced a stroke.
Lisa was boarding a plane in Melbourne to head home to see her family in Brisbane when she suddenly experienced a haemorrhagic stroke – a type of stroke that occurs from a brain bleed following a ruptured or broken blood vessel.
Prior to her stroke, Lisa had been an extremely healthy young woman, describing herself as a “fitness fanatic”.
Due to the trauma that the stroke inflicted on her body, Lisa has since endured a range of health complications, from developing epilepsy, to losing 25 per cent of her vision. She has also undergone two heart surgeries, a hip replacement, lost nine of her fingertips, along with her left leg, and all of her toes.
In spite of all of this, Lisa maintains a positive outlook on life, and encourages all Australians to be wary of stroke, to never consider themselves an exception to the rule, and to assess their risk of stroke through a Stroke Risk Assessment.
“Never consider yourself an exception to the rule by thinking stroke can’t affect you.
“Stroke can happen to anyone – a healthy person, a non-smoker,” said Lisa.
“You’re responsible for your own health and up to 80 per cent of strokes can be prevented.”
Like Lisa, Lynette Waugh, mother to three and wife to the Aussie cricket legend, Steve Waugh AO, experienced an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) stroke in August 2006, at the age of 40. The stroke affected her speech, memory and hearing.
Lynette had no idea she was at risk of stroke, citing “I have no family history of stroke. I don’t smoke and I’m not a big drinker. My stroke just happened. It was unpredictable.
“Mistakenly, I thought stroke was something that affected only older people. But stroke has no boundaries. Stroke can occur at any age, and affect anyone,” said Lynette.
“I had only just turned 40 when I had my stroke. Having a stroke is an unusual experience that leaves you cocooned.”
Following her stroke, Lynette had to re-learn everything again.
“The re-learning process is ongoing. It’s something you need to keep working on every day.
“I was in speech therapy twice-a-week and had daily activities to complete,” Lynette said.
“During the day, I would search for words, questioning, “What was that again?”
“I had to learn to talk all over again. But my brain just rewired – it was amazing,” said Lynette.
As a stroke survivor and Blooms The Chemist ambassador, Lynette contends she is well-positioned to campaign for heightened public awareness of stroke and its repercussions.
“My message to the public is to be aware of stroke, to not ignore any potential signs of stroke, and if present, to jot these signs down.
“While my form of stroke is less common, importantly, stroke can be prevented.”
With more than 60,000 Aussies experiencing a stroke every year, we advise popping into your local Blooms The Chemist for a Stroke Risk Assessment this Stroke Awareness Month.
To learn more, head to www.blooms.net.au