BY MARK WEBER
The eighth annual Central Alberta Stroke Survivors’ ‘Walk, Talk & Roll’ event is set to run July 19th at the CrossRoads Church near Red Deer.
The walk, which begins at noon, is 1km and will be followed by a barbecue and entertainment. The event was originally launched by a group of stroke survivors to help raise public awareness of stroke and to also to raise funds to support research and stroke prevention treatments. Those needing wheelchairs can of course also take part.
Stroke is also the third leading cause of death in Canada.
Each year, over 13,000 Canadians die from stroke.
Meanwhile, about 120 people took part last year, and that included both stroke survivors plus their friends and families, said Karen Jackman, Red Deer area manager for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Funds raised go to the Foundation, supporting ongoing research and programs that help those who have suffered a stroke. Raising awareness is also a main goal of the event as well.
“We try and do as much as we can especially for the local patients in the Central Alberta area using the new technologies in the hospital,” she said. “Patients in Alberta are getting the best care possible.”
According to the Foundation’s web site, arteries carry blood, rich in oxygen and nutrients, to the organs and veins carry waste products away from the organs.
Cerebral arteries are the arteries of the brain and normal brain function needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients. When a stroke happens, the blood flow is disrupted. Some brain cells do not get the oxygen and nutrients they need. When the cells die, that area of the brain cannot function as it did before.
Also according to the Foundation, there are four key signs of a stroke which follow the acronym FACE. (Face – is it drooping? Arms – can you raise both? Speech – is it slurred or jumbled? Time – call 9-1-1 right away).
Jackman also pointed out that strokes are increasingly being seen in younger populations.
“People tend to think that a stroke is an older person’s disease. The majority of individuals that do have a stroke are within that 75-plus bracket, however we are seeing a much larger increase of younger people having strokes,” she said.
“Another misconception is that strokes are (mainly) a man’s disease, much like heart disease has been seen to be. But that’s just not the case anymore. There’s been a significant rise in the percentage of women having strokes,” she said, adding that more and more people are having earlier onsets of high blood pressure which is one of the leading risk factors for stroke.
Another concern is that the Foundation 2016 Stroke Report reveals an increasingly powerful relationship between stroke and dementia due in part to covert strokes Canadians don’t realize are happening.
According to a release, covert strokes occur five times more often than obvious strokes, and both are happening at a younger age, opening the door to more and earlier dementia, and sounding the alarm for an increased focus on prevention.
“About three per cent of Canadians in their 40s have evidence of a covert stroke. They can experience small strokes and they do not even realize it, and then it is too late as the damage is not reversible,” says Dr. Eric Smith, stroke neurologist, Calgary Stroke Program and Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson.
Stroke — either a first stroke, subsequent stroke, TIA (mini-stroke) or covert stroke — can be prevented by managing vascular risk factors including high blood pressure and cholesterol and diabetes, as well as unhealthy behaviours such as tobacco use, physical inactivity and poor diet.
Ways to lower one’s risk include eating a healthy balanced diet that consists of a variety of natural/whole and minimally processed foods, being physically active, being smoke-free, managing diabetes and limiting alcohol.
There are 62,000 strokes in Canada each year – that is one stroke every nine minutes.
As to the coming event, Jackman said it’s a relaxed event and a celebration of life for patients and their families just to come together and be with others who understand what they are going through. “Really, it’s great to get them together and to encourage them to keep going because the recovery is a huge part for what we are trying to promote for them as well.<