High number of stroke victims not surprising to local group

THE high number of stroke victims on the NSW North Coast found in a national map of the disease does not surprise a local support group.

Co-ordinator of the NSW Stroke Recovery Group in Grafton, Lyndi Worthing, said the higher number of elderly people in these areas makes it almost certain to top the stroke figures.

"The statistics for stroke shows people in the 70-plus age group are at the greatest risk of having a stroke," Ms Worthing said.

Based on federal electorates, the Stroke in Australia: no postcode untouched report found the electorates of Lyne (3873), Richmond (3599) and Cowper (3570) were in the top five stroke hot spots in Australia.

The electorate of Page was not far behind these figures with 3563 people living with stroke in the region.

The report highlighted the need for greater awareness of the risk factors of stroke.

It noted the NSW Government, in partnership with the Stroke Foundation and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (NSW), had funded an awareness program in chemist stories.

More than 200,000 people have used this service.

The experience of Ms Worthing, who runs a program in Stroke Awareness Week each September, is that many people ignore the disease until it affects them directly.

"Each September we have tables set up in the street with lots of information about strokes, like the risk factors and what people can do to avoid having them," she said.

"What I've noticed is most people just walk straight past them. I think they believe it won't happen to them.

"They think they'll do something about it when it affects them, but by then it's too late."

Ms Worthing learnt this by bitter experience when stroke felled her mother, Patricia.

"It took mum six years, including a lot of time in hospital, to get over the effects of her stroke," Ms Worthing said.

She said regular check-ups with a doctor and analysis of the risk factors affecting individuals were important ways to reduce the risk of having a stroke.

"It's all about being aware of the risk factors," she said.

"Doctors can do simple things like encourage people to take an aspirin every day.

"That reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack, because it thins the blood, makes it harder to clot and easier to pump around the body."

STROKE FACTS

  • Stroke is a brain attack, it is not a heart attack.
  • Every 30 minutes in Australia, someone dies of a stroke.
  • Every 10 minutes someone has a stroke.
  • Stroke is the third-largest killer of Australians after cancer and heart.
  • Stroke is the greatest cause of disability in our modern community.
  • Stroke does not only affect the elderly, it affects Australians of all ages. It is occurring more in children and younger people in the prime of their life.
  • Depression is often experienced after a stroke.
  • The incidence of new stroke cases each year is not declining.
  • Diabetes trebles the risk of a stroke.

SUPPORT

The Grafton Stroke Support Group meets on the second Thursday of each month from 9.30am to 11.30am in the Grafton Community Centre in Duke St. Contact Lyndi Worthing on 0407 583 675.



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