To the Editor,
Each year, over 14,000 Canadians die from stroke. June is Stroke Awareness Month and doctors in the province recommend that Canadians of all ages take action to help reduce the risk of having a stroke.
A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function caused by the interruption of blood flow to the brain or the rupture of blood vessels in the brain. A stroke can impact any number of areas including the ability to move, see, remember, speak, reason and read and write. Stroke is a medical emergency which requires immediate response to the warning signs by calling 911. The five signs of stroke are sudden symptoms of weakness, trouble speaking, vision problems, headache, and dizziness.
While you can’t control your age, family history, gender or ethnicity, there are many other risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure and elevated blood cholesterol that you can control.
To lower your risk of stroke, have your blood pressure taken by a healthcare professional at least once every two years and discuss your reading together. Quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight through diet and physical activity can help reduce blood pressure. Stress can also cause blood pressure to rise, so set aside some time every day to relax.
Doctors Nova Scotia encourages Canadians of all ages to be proactive and become educated about stroke. For more information about stroke, visit www.heartandstroke.ns.ca .
Mike Fleming, BSc, MD, CCFP, FCFP
President Doctors Nova Scotia