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For over 60 years June has been Stroke Awareness Month

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Stroke Awareness Month was created by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and for over 60 years they have dedicated June to educating Canadians about the importance of fighting heart disease and stroke – thus helping to save lives and improve the quality of life for many.

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More than 400,000 Canadians are living with a long-term disability from the effects a stroke. This number calls for us to educate more people about the potential risk of being diagnosed with this disease, especially women. Strokes disproportionately affect women with 59 percent of stroke deaths occurring in the female population.

In Canada, someone has a stroke every nine minutes. A stroke happens when blood stops flowing to any part of your brain, damaging brain cells. The effects of a stroke depend on the part of the brain that was damaged and the amount of damage done. Knowing how your brain works can help you understand your stroke.

The brain is the control centre of your body. It controls how you think, feel, communicate and move. The brain is full of specialized cells called neurons. These neurons make the brain work and to work properly and even to survive, they need to be fed by a constant supply of blood.

Arteries and veins are types of blood vessels in your body. Arteries carry blood, rich in oxygen and nutrients, to your organs. Veins carry waste products away from your organs. Cerebral arteries are the arteries of the brain. 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.

Stroke is a medical emergency. If you experience any of these signs, call 9-1-1. Do not drive to the hospital. An ambulance will get you to the best hospital for stroke care. Remember the acronym F A S T:

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· F – Face – is it drooping?

· A – Arms – can you raise both?

· S – Speech – is it slurred or jumbled?

· T – Time – to call 9-1-1 right away.

Act F A S T because the quicker you act, the more of the person you save.

On Friday, June 25th, our local community stroke programs are hosting a free virtual Stroke Awareness event. “Understanding the Invisible” was created for stroke survivors and their caregivers and will feature an afternoon of information sharing from local experts. This free event will run from 11:00am to 3:00pm and include presentations such as the following:

· “The Invisible Impacts of Stroke” – Keynote Speaker Dr. Duncan Day (Neuropsychologist)

· “Depression After Stroke” – Gord Unsworth from Providence Care Hospital

· “Aphasia After Stroke” – Lee Ann Kant from the Aphasia Institute

· “Memory Loss After Stroke” – Sharon Osvald from Alzheimer’s HPE

· “Engaging in Activity After Stroke” and “Guided Leisure Activity” – Shannon McCallum (Therapeutic Recreation)

· “Stroke – Present and Future” – Natalie Gierman from Heart and Stroke Foundation

Please share the contact information for this amazing free event with anyone you know that may have experienced a stroke event or someone caring for a loved one living with the effects of a stroke. If you have questions or wish to register please contact Lorraine Pyle, Stroke Services Coordinator for CCSH at lorrainep@ccsh.ca.

For more valuable information and resources on this topic please access www.heartandstroke.ca, or call 416-489-7111 or 1-888-473-4636.

Information in this column is compiled by Shell-Lee Wert, CCSH, 470 Dundas Street East, Unit 63, Belleville, K8N 1G1. Please visit our website at https://ccsh.ca or email me at shell-leew@ccsh.ca, or call 613-969-0130 or 613-396-6591 for information and assistance. Community Care is a proud United Way member agency. Funding in part from the South East Local Health Integration Network.

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