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Strokes are a medical emergency, not just locally, but globally as well.

Up to 360 South Africans a day are affected by strokes and experts warn that about a third of those who have a stroke will die, and a quarter will be left with life-changing disability.

October is Stroke Awareness Month, and the novel Angels Initiative and the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa are mobilising healthcare institutions and service providers, survivor support groups and other partners to improve public awareness of stroke and how the negative consequences of the condition can be mitigated.

Stroke is essentially a ‘brain attack’. The supply of blood and oxygen to the brain can be cut off because of a blockage or damage to a blood vessel in the brain. This causes the brain cells to die, which can be fatal or result in disability.
 
“Many factors complicate South Africa’s response to stroke,” says Professor Pamela Naidoo, the CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation: “High blood pressure, smoking, diet rich in fatty foods and sugary drinks and insufficient exercise describe the lifestyle of too many South Africans – and make us more at risk of stroke. 

"When a stroke strikes, poor patient awareness of symptoms and inadequate access to fast medical help make survival and recovery less likely.”

 
The Angels Initiative, introduced to South Africa last year by Boehringer Ingelheim, has a two-fold aim. The first is to increase stroke awareness and education across diverse communities in order to reach the population at large. The second is to provide best practice guidelines, training and equipment, standardising the availability and quality of stroke-readiness and care within South Africa’s hospitals.
 
Dr Shanil Naidoo, Medical Director of Boehringer Ingelheim South Africa, says: “Many stroke patients can be saved and go on to live lives free from disability if they receive appropriate care in a stroke-ready facility.”
 
The October awareness campaign will highlight simple facts that can save numerous lives. Many strokes can be reversed if blood flow to the brain is restored before the brain tissue dies. Everyone should know the FAST test that enables easy recognition of possible stroke symptoms – and if needed, they should get to their closest appropriate emergency department as quickly as possible.
(Adapted from press release)