This week is National Stroke Week (13-19 September 2010) and Deputy Premier and Minister for Health Paul Lucas today reminded Queenslanders about the importance of recognizing the early signs of a stroke.
Stroke is Australia's second single greatest killer after coronary heart disease, and is a leading cause of disability.
This year, Australians will suffer about 60,000 strokes - that's one stroke every 10 minutes.
Mr Lucas said recognizing the early signs of a stroke could help minimize severe disability or even prevent death.
"There's no better time than National Stroke Week to remind ourselves how the effect of a stroke can be reduced by rapid response and treatment - it could save your life or the life of a loved one," Mr Lucas said.
"During 2010, the National Stroke Foundation will continue to promote its FAST campaign to raise awareness of stroke warning signs.
"FAST stands for Face, Arms, Speech and Time and involves asking three easy questions," he said.
The FAST test is:
F - Face. Can the person smile, has their mouth dropped
A - Arms. Can the person raise both their arms
S - Speech. Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say
T - Time. Act FAST and call 000 immediately. "It is important to remember that stroke is always a medical emergency, and medical assistance should be sought by calling 000 - even when the symptoms last for only a short time," Mr Lucas said.
Mr Lucas said whilst early recognition of the warning signs of a stroke is extremely important, prevention is better than cure.
"Although there are certain risk factors that cannot be controlled including age, gender and family history, there are others that can be managed by the individual," he said.
"Keeping blood pressure and cholesterol low, not smoking, maintaining a healthy diet and being physically active are all key factors in reducing risk of stroke.
"As these risk factors are lifestyle related, everyone has the power to reduce their risk of having a stroke by engaging in a healthy lifestyle."
Mr Lucas said high blood pressure was the most modifiable risk factor for stroke, and was also a major risk factor for other diseases such as coronary heart disease and kidney disease.
"The Know Your Numbers initiative - which is funded by the Bligh Government and delivered through the National Stroke Foundation in partnership with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia Queensland Branch and participating pharmacies - provides free blood pressure checks to Queenslanders," Mr Lucas said.
"Through the initiative, people who record a high blood pressure reading at their participating pharmacy are encouraged to go to their GP for a full risk assessment.
"Sixteen months ago, the Bligh Government provided $2.5 million to the National Stroke Foundation for the operation and expansion of their Know Your Numbers Campaign.
"Since then, over 55,000 Queenslanders have had their blood pressure tested across 456 pharmacies across the state.
"Queensland is the only state that operates these permanent Know Your Numbers pressure stations.
"This service is just another example of how the Bligh Government is expanding and challenging traditional notions of health service delivery to deliver health care to Queenslanders."
Mr Lucas said just one in five Queenslanders who visited a Know Your Numbers blood pressure station in 2009 recorded normal blood pressure readings.
"The rate of strokes in Queensland is eight per cent higher than the Australian average, and fifty thousand Queenslanders are believed to be living with the effects of stroke," he said.
"There is life after stroke - the Bligh Government has dedicated teams and a range of programs in place to support stroke survivors and their families."
For more information visit www.health.qld.gov.au or www.strokefoundation.com.au