- Stroke also kills twice as many women as breast cancer
New statistics reveal that almost twice as many women than men are dying from the disease in Donegal, the Irish Heart Foundation has announced. The organisation released the information in advance of National Stroke Week, which runs next week, Monday, April 16 to Sunday, April 22.
According to the national charity which fights heart disease and stroke, the latest CSO figures (for 2010) showed that there were 86 stroke-related deaths in Donegal, 56 women compared to 30 men.
This is considerably higher than statistics showing that the national stroke death rate was around 50% higher for women. In total 1,258 women died from stroke during 2010, out of a total of 2,053 stroke fatalities countrywide.
Irish Heart Foundation Medical Director Dr Angie Brown said stroke is Ireland’s third biggest killer disease, so everyone should make sure they know the symptoms and understand that the only response when the disease strikes is to call 999 immediately.
Dr Brown said: “The higher death rate from stroke among women is not widely known. The fact is that stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer in Ireland and we are particularly asking women to be aware of the FAST warning signs during this year’s National Stroke Week.”
The FAST acronym stands for:
Face – has their face fallen on one side?
Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there?
Speech – is their speech slurred?
Time – time to call 999 if you see any one of these signs.
According to Dr Brown, the main reason more women die from stroke is that they live longer than men, resulting in a greater likelihood of being affected by the disease. However, other factors are also at play such as the higher risk of stroke in women with atrial fibrillation than men with the same condition. Atrial fibrilliation is the most common form of cardiac arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat and is associated with strokes that are more severe and are more likely to be fatal.
But the Irish Heart Foundation says the good news is that because of improvements to hospital services for stroke – such as the development of a national network of stroke units and the wider availability of the potentially life-saving clot-buster treatment called thrombolysis – stroke sufferers can massively influence their own outcome by getting to hospital FAST.
“It is estimated that service improvements delivered by the HSE in the last 18 months could ultimately reduce the death rate from stroke by up to 25%,” said Dr Brown. “But they can only work for patients who get into hospital quickly enough to benefit from them.
“The fact is that the average stroke destroys around two million brain cells every minute. So the quicker you get to hospital after a stroke, literally the more of your brain the doctors can save.”
Dr Brown added that in addition to lives that could still be saved after stroke strikes, there was a lot that people could do to prevent themselves from having a stroke in the first place.
The Irish Heart Foundation Medical Director concluded: “Lifestyle changes such as drinking in moderation, not smoking, being more active and improving your diet can have a dramatic impact in lowering stroke risk. It is also crucial to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It is estimated that 40% of strokes could be prevented through better control of blood pressure.”
More information about stroke and Irish Heart Foundation Stroke Week activities are available on www.stroke.ie, while medical queries can be answered through the Irish Heart Foundation’s National Heart & Stroke Helpline 1890 432 787, Mon to Fri, 10am to 5pm.
What’s happening in Donegal for National Stroke Week
The Letterkenny General Hospital stroke team has an information stand in the hospital reception between 1-4pm on Wednesday the 18th of April, with FAST information leaflets will be available on the day. Drumfad National School in Kerrykeel is running an Act FAST awareness campaign to teach students and parents about the signs of stroke.