CASEY Hair has been getting people who wander through the Gardiner-Pittard building to try writing their name with their non-dominant hand, just to feel a little what it might be like if you had a stroke.
Ballarat Health Services’ clinical nurse specialist and medical registrar Erin Maylin each presented at the European Stroke Congress in Sweden earlier this year. And, while they say there is a lot of exciting research and development going on in the field, the key takeaway message is prevention.
Ms Hair said it was vital everyone took steps to understand their own risk and do something about it.
She has spent this National Stroke Week aiming to empower people in getting a check-up with their general practitioner and learning FAST – Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty and Time to call an ambulance – as a response.
Ms Hair is the Victorian Stroke Telemedicine site coordinator for the BHS Base Hospital. This can tap into a network of Melbourne-based neurologists for on-the-spot assessment outside business hours.
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“Ballarat is doing a great job benchmarking our peers in Victoria. Stroke care is a big priority in Ballarat,” Ms Hair said. “When somebody has a stroke, part of our priority is why...we can look at interventions to lessen the risk to further strokes.”
Stroke is the leading cause for disability in Australia and one of the leading causes for death. One in six people will have a stroke in their lifetime.
Ms Hair led creation for a personalised, multi-disciplinary stroke discharge care plan for Ballarat patients, which she presented at the ESOC conference in May.
Dr Maylin presented on ways to predict heart arrhythmia that causes stroke called aterial fibrillation to help prevent future strokes in high-risk patients.
The basic physician trainee hopes to specialise in stroke and said working in Ballarat with BHS offered great opportunity to gain practical experience and contribute to innovative research in neurology and stroke.
They both urged the community to take steps to reducing stroke risks.
More than 80 per cent of stroke can be prevented, according to Stroke Foundation chief Sharon McGowan who said there was a worrying trend of strokes affecting younger, working-age Australians every day.
Top tips for National Stroke Week are: stay active as too much body fat can contribute to high blood pressure and high cholesterol; eat well, drop the salt and steer clear of sugary drinks; drink alcohol in moderation; quit smoking as smokers double their risk of stroke; and make to see your doctor for a health check.
Ms Hair also suggested trying the Stroke Riskometre app which can help identify stroke risk in context with age and gender.
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