Australian cricket legend, Steve Waugh, is joining his wife Lynette, health professionals and stroke survivors, to champion public awareness of stroke, its often fatal consequences, and the importance of early detection today.
With more than 60,000 Australians experiencing stroke each year, Waugh and Lynette, who survived a devastating haemorrhagic stroke in August, 2006, are urging members of the community to visit their local Blooms The Chemist pharmacy for a free Stroke Risk Assessment this Stroke Risk Awareness Month (September).
According to Waugh, his wife experienced a stroke at the age of 40, without warning.
“It was completely unexpected, and an extremely intimidating and terrifying experience for everyone,” he says.
“Lynette has since spent the past nine years working to reclaim her speech, memory and hearing – a battle she continues to wage today.
“Mistakenly, many of us tend to think of stroke as an older person’s condition. But stroke can strike anyone, at any age.
“One in six people will have a stroke during their lifetime. While stroke currently has no cure, importantly, the most common type of stroke can be prevented,” he says.
Lynette Waugh’s stroke was unusual in that it was not preventable; haemorrhagic stroke is responsible for 20% of strokes.
Most strokes are due to risk factors including older age, gender, family history, medical conditions and lifestyle.
Blooms the Chemist Wyong pharmacist Kurt Smith told the AJP that the level of awareness about stroke and its prevention in the community could be a lot better.
“Pharmacists are really well positioned, being in the local community and at the forefront with their patients, to be able to perform screening procedures,” he says.
“We see a lot of patients every day to perform these services.
“Stroke is hugely preventable, and there is a large lifestyle component involved – the level of awareness isn’t great in the community and that’s why we have this push on to raise awareness, to let people know that they need to come in and have a look at this.
“Screening is hugely beneficial: being able to look at blood pressure, cholesterol and even blood sugar levels is a really good first call in being able to identify risk factors, and then we’ve got a whole suite of services in store.
“I think pharmacists in general have a really deep desire to help people in the community, and do really care about their patients – and so it’s really important that pharmacists are aware of the risks of stroke in our community too.”
He encourages all adults, including those in the less-at-risk under-65s group, to find out their blood pressure as a starting point.
“That’s where it all starts… the blood pressure and heart risks. Stroke’s the second-most common cause of disability in Australia and we want people to be aware of their risk.”
Image: Smith checks Lynette’s blood pressure