Time is brain, according to stroke specialist Dinesh Tryambake.
The head of Launceston General Hospital’s stroke department, Dr Tryambake, is calling on a greater state of awareness for stroke prevention and treatment.
Tasmania has the highest stroke rare per capita in the country, with about 1500 people experiencing a stroke each year.
With this number expected to double by 2050, Dr Tryambake said more people needed to understand that every stroke constitutes a medical emergency.
“In a stroke, every minute there are two million neurons in your brain that are dying,” he said.
“Every 12 minutes, you are losing the brain size of about a pea.
“It is a small amount, but a lot in terms of functionality.
“If you are losing the time, you are losing the brain. In terms of the consequences, they can be catastrophic.
“People end up in nursing homes in their 50s – it is alarming.”
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Strokes are currently responsible for more deaths in women than breast cancer, and more in men than prostate cancer.
With lifestyle choices such as obesity, smoking and high cholesterol some of the leading risk factors for a stroke, Dr Tryambake said more people needed to take action in prevention.
“In Launceston alone, we get around 350 stroke patients a year,” he said.
“What we need to be doing is cutting the risk factors.
“I see people who don’t take their blood pressure tablets, people who don’t want to go to the GP.
“We need to start changing these attitudes.”
Dr Tryambake said in Tasmania, lifestyle choices such as physical inactivity were major factors contributing to poor health outcomes.
“People are not active enough and our rates of obesity are much higher, more so in the North and the North West,” he said.
“Get your blood pressure checked regularly. Get your cholesterol levels checked regularly. Quit smoking and exercise.
“These are all steps which could considerably lower the number of stroke cases.”
Campaigns such as act FAST aim to raise awareness for recognising stroke symptoms – face, arms, speech and time.
However Dr Tryambake said people were often complacent when it came to dealing with stroke symptoms.
“When they have a stroke, sometime people don’t know that if they get to the hospital in four hours, we can treat them,” he said.
“But if they wait until the next day to see their GP, and say I can’t feel my arm, it can be too late for them to then present to us at the hospital.
“The message is if you are experiencing a stroke symptom, you must get to a hospital immediately.”
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