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Age no protection – a stroke can strike anyone


Wairarapa stroke patients aren’t presenting at the Emergency Department early enough, making it more vital for people to know when to call 111.

Strokes are the third leading cause of death in New Zealand. Every hour someone has a stroke, and there are 50,000 people living with stroke aftermath – a third of them requiring help in everyday living.

There’s a misconception that strokes are an “old person disease”.

However, 54 per cent of stroke sufferers are younger than 75 and for Maori and Pacific peoples, 60 per cent are younger than 65.

Stroke Central NZ will hold a presentation in Carterton next month to highlight stroke support, symptoms of a stroke, stroke prevention, and how to take charge after a stroke.

Community partnerships officer Anne Jager-Annear said strokes were happening in younger people.

“Lately, younger people in their 30s and 40s can be the victim of a stroke, even as young as 18.

“People under 65 [years of age] say ‘why do I need to learn?’ or ‘I’m too young to have a stroke’. It’s important for everyone to know, even teenagers. They might need to know how to get an ambulance for their parents.”

A third of people affected by strokes are younger than 65. More than half of people affected by a stroke were younger than 75. Males have a 20 per cent greater risk than women.

The Ministry of Health recorded Wairarapa had the highest number of people who didn’t present to the hospital early enough.

“We don’t know why,” Jager-Annear said. “Especially considering we have Wellington Free Ambulance.

“Maybe people don’t recognise symptoms early enough or heard the hospital is overrun and don’t want to be a burden.”

She said the sooner the patient gets to the hospital, the better the survival and recovery rate.

“It’s important for everyone to know the stroke symptoms because if someone’s suffering a stroke, they need to get to the hospital immediately. Every 15 minutes makes a huge difference in their survival and recovery.”

Jager-Annear said that stroke prevention was also very important.

“A lot can be done to prevent a stroke – diet, exercise, cut down smoking, alcohol and generally just looking after yourself.”

The presentation next month will have Wairarapa Maori Health general manager Jason Kerehi present, with help from the Heart Foundation and Stroke Foundation.

There will be free blood pressure and pulse measures after the presentation.

The presentation will be at Carterton Event Centre on October 4 from 11am to 1pm. RSVP before September 26.

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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