Stroke Awareness Month: A Chance to Keep Informed about Strokes

June is National Stroke Awareness Month, and as the month comes to a close, we have an opportunity to check in that we understand some of the risks, means of preventing, and signs/symptoms of a stroke, one of the top causes of death in Canada. Read on for a primer about this medical emergency.


What is a stroke?

A stroke is a disruption of blood supply to the brain, either due to a blockage from a clot (ischemic) or internal bleeding (hemmorhagic), causing lasting damage to the brain. Some potential consequences of a stroke include compromised movement, motor and language skills, and dementia. Strokes can strike at any age and even affect children, but the risk of having a stroke increases after the age of 55.


Preventing Strokes

Strokes are relatively common, and in 2000 accounted for seven percent of all deaths in Canada. Up to eighty percent of Canadians are at a risk for a stroke, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle can play a role in minimizing the chances of having one. The Heart and Stroke Foundation in B.C and the Yukon notes that eating healthily, getting exercise, and living smoke-free are all key to preventing strokes. Some risk factors for having a stroke include excessive alcohol use, smoking cigarettes and other drugs, and stress. Want to get a rough assessment of your risk of having a stroke? The Heart and Stroke Foundation has an online test (that is not a substitute for a trip to the doctor, but a place to start thinking about lifestyle choices.


Signs of a Stroke

If someone you love is having a stroke, it is crucial to act fast to prevent lasting damage to their brain. Public health initiatives have developed an acronym to remind us to act FAST and know the signs:


Face – is it drooping to one side? This is a clear sign of a stroke.

Arms – can you raise both? Limited mobility is an indication that something is wrong.

Speech – is it slurred or jumbled? If you cannot understand a loved one’s speech, be alert.

Time – call 9-1-1 right away if you see any of these signs, especially all at once!


Here is a video showing what a stroke can look like, captured by a husband who saved his wife’s life by taking this video for the doctors:



Looking to support research on preventing or enjoying life after a stroke, or generally donating to an association involved with stroke survivors? We have a few options for you:


1) The Stroke Recovery Association of British Columbia has events coming up after June, including a July Art After Stroke event and the Rock for Dimes corporate donor party at the Redroom. For more information on these events, see here:


2) The Heart and Stroke Foundation needs donations and volunteers for these upcoming events: