New data shows need for 2017 FAST campaign

Stroke Second Leading Cause of Death

 It’s more important than ever that people learn how to reduce their risk of a stroke, and to recognise the symptoms of one.

Stroke Foundation CEO Mark Vivian says new Ministry of Health figures show stroke is a major cause of death amongst New Zealanders.

“In fact, according to the NZ Health Survey report, stroke was the second leading cause of death in 2012, after ischaemic heart disease,” Mr Vivian said.

According to the report, 57,000 adults reported having a stroke at some stage in their life (defined as being told by their doctor that they had had a stroke).

Men were more likely to have had a stroke than women, and the risk increased sharply over the age of 65.

“The figures also show there’s a lot of work to be done in Maori and Pasifika communities to reduce the rate of stroke,” Mr Vivian said.

“And while it’s true older people are at greater risk, a stroke can happen to anyone at any time. Luckily there are steps you can take to protect yourself. So it’s important everyone learns them.”

Regular blood pressure checks, low-salt diets, regular exercise and eating fresh produce are the best defence against strokes, as are quitting smoking and being careful with alcohol.

The Stroke Foundation encourages New Zealand adults aged 35 and over to get regular blood pressure checks, and each year the organisation hosts the Big New Zealand Blood Pressure Check, when people can get their blood pressure tested for free. This year more than 15,000 people got a free check, which could help reduce their risk of stroke.

And a nationwide campaign this year called FAST (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 111) taught people to recognise the three main symptoms of stroke and to treat them as a medical emergency.

The campaign was a joint venture between the Ministry of Health, the Health Promotion Agency and the Stroke Foundation, and has been credited with saving lives and increasing early stroke treatment.

“The latest figures show the need for FAST awareness, and we strongly hope the Government will fund the programme in 2017,” Mr Vivian said.

Mr Vivian encouraged everyone to learn more about stroke.

“Learn how to prevent a stroke, and know how to respond to one,” Mr Vivian said. “That way you give yourself a good chance of not becoming a statistic.”

 ENDS

 For further information contact:

Simon Bradwell, Communications and Promotions Manager

04 815 8124 / 027 506 9822 simon.bradwell@stroke.org.nz

Follow us on Twitter: @StrokewiseNZ