Nozipho Fudumele and her grandson live in one room shack room in Mfuleni.She has stroke and no job and is looking for a house.pic Phando Jikelo

MARIA Morris, 53, from Mitchells Plain woke up one night to go to the toilet and suddenly fell.

After a few minutes of trying to stand up and not being able to, she crawled back to bed.

But when she woke up she realised that she’d had a stroke.

“When we woke up in the morning, the first thing my husband said was whether I had noticed that I had a stroke? He told me that one side of my face drooped which was very alarming,” said Morris.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, 10 people in South Africa have a stroke every hour.

Today (October 29), the world commemorates World Stroke Day and the start of Stroke Awareness Week which takes place from yesterday until Saturday .

Health campaigners and medics often use this time to call on people to familiarise themselves with the signs and symptoms of a stroke.

Morris, who is a housewife, said when she had a stroke it changed her life. She had to spend two months in a hospital and rehabilitation centre.

What made it less stressful was the support from her husband, George Morris, who is also a stroke survivor.

“I felt depressed all the time, I cried most of the time because my face had changed. Now I have to walk with a walking stick. For an independent person like me it came as a big adjustment.

“If it wasn’t for the help that I had received from professionals, I wouldn’t be able to walk again,” said Morris.

Western Cape Health MEC, Nomafrench Mbombo said: “Stroke is the leading cause of disability in South Africa... more than 400 South Africans suffer from a stroke daily.

“Many survivors are left disabled and one third of these survivors are at risk of having a second stroke within a year,” she said.

Maintaining a healthy and disciplined lifestyle is the best preventative measure for a stroke.

George Morris, 50, said he had had to make lifestyle changes after they both experienced a stroke. “We had to change the way we eat and make it more healthy to avoid us having a stroke,” he said.

Dr Anchen Laubscher, medical director of Netcare Hospital group, said when it comes to a possible case of stroke, people should think “fast”.

When in doubt, people can use the acronym FAST, which can help you to remember what symptoms to look out for and what to do in the event of a stroke.

F - Face drooping - facial muscles are weak, often causing one side of the face to droop.

A - Arm or leg weakness - the person may feel weak in one or both of their arms or legs and may feel numb on one side of their body. Limbs may also have poor co-ordination with difficulty walking or standing up.

S - Speech difficulty - the person may slur words, use words incorrectly or not be able to speak.

T - Time to call emergency medical services.