Knowing Stroke Signs Saves Lives

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Knowing and responding immediately to the warning signs of stroke can significantly improve the odds of survival and recovery.

To help Nova Scotians recognize such potentially life-saving cues, the province, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia, and Cardiovascular Health Nova Scotia -- the provincial program responsible for improving care for heart disease and stroke -- have partnered on a 16-month awareness campaign.

"We are working with our partners to reduce the devastating impact stroke can have on the lives of Nova Scotians," said Maureen MacDonald, Minister of Health. "Through this campaign and our efforts to improve stroke care, I know many people who suffer a stroke will live longer, more fulfilling lives."

The five warning signs of stroke are weakness, trouble speaking, vision problems, headache and dizziness.

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"When it comes to a stroke, the faster you can get medical attention, the better," said Menna MacIsaac, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia. "We encourage all Nova Scotians to know the warning signs and call 911 immediately."

A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function caused by the interruption of the flow of blood to the brain or the rupture of blood vessels in the brain. Strokes can hinder the ability to move, see, remember, speak, reason, read and write.

A recent poll of Nova Scotia adults 18 and older indicates that 65 per cent of Nova Scotians can name at least two warning signs of stroke. This same poll also showed that two-thirds of Nova Scotians would call 9-1-1 or an ambulance if they, or someone they know, experienced warning signs of stroke. The campaign aims to improve those results.

The campaign, funded by the Health Department, is part of a provincial strategy to enhance existing stroke programs and services. Modelled after other successful stroke awareness campaigns, it will include television and print materials that will run from mid-July until November 2010.

Someone suffers a stroke every 10 minutes in Canada, making it the third leading cause of mortality in the country, with 14,000 deaths annually. Of the more than 50,000 strokes nationally each year, about 1,500 occur in Nova Scotia. More than half of survivors need help with daily activities.

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