Stroke is the second most common cause of death in Australia.


Around 60,000 strokes happen every year.


  • One in three people die within a year of having a stroke.


  • Stroke kills more women than breast cancer.


  • Almost one in five people who experience a stroke are under the age of 55 (so it is not just an older person’s problem).


  • Men are more likely to suffer a stroke and at a younger age.

What Is A Stroke?


A stroke happens when the supply of blood to an area of the brain is suddenly interrupted. The blood flow may be disrupted because the artery is blocked (called an ischaemic stroke), or because the artery breaks or bursts, causing a bleed (called an haemmorhagic stroke).


When blood stops flowing, the brain does not get the oxygen it needs, and so brain cells in the area die and brain damage occurs.


Some strokes are fatal while others cause permanent or temporary disability.


The good news is that stroke is largely preventable. There is no single cause for stroke, but there are risk factors that are known to increase your likelihood of


suffering a stroke.

Stroke Risk Factors That You Cannot Control


  • Age  – as you get older, your risk of stroke increases.


  • Gender  – stroke is more common in men.


  • A Family History of stroke

Stroke Risk Factors That You Cannot Control


  1. High blood pressure (hypertension) is the leading risk factor for stroke. High blood pressure can cause damage to blood vessel walls, which may eventually lead to a stroke.


Visit your local DCO pharmacy today for a FREE blood pressure check


You can control your blood pressure by reducing your weight, exercising regularly, eating a healthy balanced diet, and taking antihypertensive medication (if necessary).


  1. High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia /dyslipidemia) can cause fatty deposits in the blood, potentially clogging arteries leading to stroke. You can control your cholesterol by eating a healthy balanced diet, and by taking cholesterol-lowering medication (if necessary).


  1. Smoking is known to increase your stroke risk by increasing blood pressure and reducing oxygen in the blood. Tobacco smoke also damages blood vessel walls, leading to narrowing and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). This makes blood clots more likely to form in the arteries to the brain and heart. Smoking also makes your blood “sticky” - which further increases the risk of blood clots forming – which leads to stroke.

An Important Message about Mini Strokes


A mini stroke, or transient ischaemic attacks (TIA) can be an important warning sign that a stroke may occur in the future. TIAs are often called mini strokes because the disruption in blood supply to the brain is only temporary, due to partial blockage of an artery by a blood clot or debris.


TIAs have similar symptoms as a stroke, but because they are temporary they do not usually cause long-term brain damage. Symptoms of a TIA only appear for a brief period of time, then resolve.


A TIA often occurs in the days or weeks before a full stroke, are a powerful warning sign of an impending stroke. Just like full strokes, TIAs need emergency treatment and should not be ignored – in fact, by seeking treatment for a TIA, you may even prevent a stroke from occurring.

When Stroke Strikes – Act FAST


Few people recognise the symptoms of stroke. Learning them – and acting FAST by calling 000 when they occur – could save your life or the


life of a loved one.


Common stroke symptoms include:


  • Sudden numbness or weakness

of the face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body

  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination


Use the FAST test to remember the most common signs of a stroke:


F = FACE       Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?


A = ARMS Can the person raise both arms? Or is one weaker than the other? S = SPEECH Is the person unable to speak, hard to understand or slurred?

T = TIME        Time to act FAST


If you observe any of these signs, call 000 for an ambulance immediately.


DISCLAIMER: This material contains general information about medical conditions and treatments and is intended for educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical or professional advice, nor should it be used for the purposes of diagnosing or treating any illness. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your local pharmacist or health care provider to obtain professional advice relevant to your specific circumstances.