June is Stroke Awareness Month
May 26, 2021

Currently, 15, 000 people die each year from strokes, making it the fourth leading cause of death in Canada. Those who survive a stroke are often never free of its effects and may be plagued by a host of life-changing disabilities including, but not limited to: partial paralysis, memory loss, vision issues, as well as balance and coordination problems. An astonishing 272, 000 people are living with the side effects of a stroke, resulting in the disease costing the Canadian economy $2.7 billion annually. Clearly, such a destructive disease deserves our utmost attention and Canadians should strive to support current research and fundraising initiatives throughout Stroke Awareness Month and beyond.

There is no definitive way to determine who will have a stroke. However, there are several conditions that will increase one’s likelihood of suffering a stroke. Controllable factors include:

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Physical inactivity
  • Diabetes.
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption

Uncontrollable factors include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Family History
  • Ethnicity
  • Prior Stroke

The risk for stroke is increased by the above uncontrollable factors, but it is still possible to decrease your risk by managing all of the controllable causes. The easiest way to do this is by adopting and maintaining a healthy active lifestyle, which significantly reduces the controllable risk factors. A healthy active lifestyle includes healthy eating habits and regular physical activity.

In order to ensure your diet is healthy and appropriately balanced, the Canadian Government recommends following the Canadian Food Guide. The guide is easily accessible through Health Canada’s website or alternatively by dialing 1-800-O-Canada (1-800-622-6232).

The Canadian Government also provides a physical activity guide, which recommends building up to thirty to sixty minutes of physical activity each day for adults, and at least ninety minutes for children.

Living a healthy, active lifestyle is the simplest and best way to reduce your risk for stroke, but with no perfect avoidance strategy, it is important to be familiar with all of the warning signs. By paying close attention to warning signs and immediately discussing them with a health care professional you can limit the potentially lasting effects of a stroke. The most common warning signs include:

  • Sudden weakness
  • Numbing or tingling
  • Loss of speech
  • Loss of vision
  • Severe or unusual headaches
  • Unprovoked falls

Hopefully by raising awareness and increasing Canadian’s knowledge of the signs, symptoms, and potential ways to limit their risk of suffering a stroke, we can significantly reduce the number of deaths and lasting disabilities caused by strokes every year.