Concerning new data finds Mallees stroke awareness is declining

Stroke Foundation

Concerning new Stroke Foundation data has found the Mallee region is going backwards when it comes to recognising even just one of the three common signs of stroke.

The foundation’s F.A.S.T. National Awareness survey, completed by YouGov, found that only 66 per cent of Mallee residents can recognise at least one sign of stroke, which is a six per cent decrease compared to last year (71 per cent). Additionally, one in three (34 per cent) Mallee residents could not recall any of the F.A.S.T signs of stroke which is up from 29 per cent in 2022.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lisa Murphy, says this is not the right direction the statistics should be going.

“This is concerning because what this is telling us is that fewer people in the Mallee region would recognise a stroke and might not know that it is a medical emergency that requires immediate specialist treatment. This can have detrimental outcomes.”

In 2023 Stroke Foundation commissioned YouGov to survey thousands of Australians on their awareness of the signs and risks of stroke and test their knowledge of the F.A.S.T. acronym which highlights the most common signs of stroke (F for facial droop, A for inability to lift both arms, S for slurred speech and T stands for time- stroke is always a medical emergency so call an ambulance immediately).

“When a stroke strikes, it attacks up to 1.9 million brain cells per minute. Acting quickly and getting emergency treatment by calling 000 can be the difference between surviving and living well after stroke or death and long-term disability.”

“Knowing the signs of stroke and recognising a stroke saves lives,” Dr Murphy said.

The survey also measures Australians’ awareness of the risk factors of stroke. One of the leading causes of stroke is high blood pressure. In the Mallee region, 34,173 people are living with high blood pressure but only 62 per cent of residents are aware that high blood pressure is a risk of stroke. This has fallen significantly compared to the year before where 73 per cent of people identified high blood pressure as a risk factor.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of having regular blood pressure checks to firstly identify if you have high blood pressure, and then work with your GP on ways to reduce your blood pressure and control it,” Dr Murphy said.

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