Push to make Aussies aware of the common signs of stroke


The Stroke Foundation is urging Aussies to think ‘Arms in April’ in a bid to raise awareness of the least known sign of someone having a stroke.

The month-long campaign encourages Australians to learn that inability to lift both arms is a sign of stroke, along with the other common signs; facial droop, and slurred speech.

It comes after new data from the foundation’s most recent F.A.S.T. National Awareness Survey found that only 10 per cent of Australians are aware of the common stroke sign compared to facial droop (39 per cent) and slurred speech (58 per cent).

Stroke Foundation chief executive Dr Lisa Murphy said this is a major concern.

“When it comes to a stroke, time is critical and can be the difference between life and death or a good recovery and long term disability,“ she said.

“If there’s a delay in getting emergency treatment because the stroke wasn’t identified fast enough due to not knowing that inability to lift both

arms is a sign, then that’s a major concern and we need Australians to join us in our charge to change that.”

According to National Stroke Audit data, close to 57 per cent of Australian stroke patients present to hospital with arm deficit but every year it remains the most unrecognised sign.

“A significant proportion of stroke patients are arriving to hospital with this indicator of stroke so it’s concerning that the majority of Australians don’t know it’s a sign,”she said.

“We’re asking Aussies to think ‘A’ for arms and equip themselves with the life-saving knowledge of recognising this key stroke sign.“

The Heart Foundation encourages all Australians to make time for a health check with their doctor or pharmacist about stroke risk factors.

Risk factors include:

High blood pressure

High blood pressure can damage the walls of blood vessels, and it can lead to heart problems. It can cause clots or plaques to break off and block an artery in the brain. High blood pressure is also the strongest risk factor for haemorrhagic stroke.

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes affects the body’s ability to absorb glucose (sugar), and can lead to fatty deposits or clots in blood vessels.

High cholesterol

Cholesterol can build up in plaques on the walls of arteries, narrowing the artery and leading to a clot.

Atrial fibrillation or irregular pulse

An irregular heartbeat causes stagnant blood flow through the heart, and can cause a clot that then goes to the brain.