Deadlier than breast cancer: How to avoid a stroke

ON THE MEND: Ipswich Hospital’s Linda Edwards performs a blood pressure check on Vivien Westbrook.
ON THE MEND: Ipswich Hospital’s Linda Edwards performs a blood pressure check on Vivien Westbrook. Andrew Korner

KNOWING your blood pressure and diabetes risk can go a long way toward preventing a potentially fatal stroke, but not everyone gets a warning.

Vivien Westbrook, 71, had no choice but to stop taking her blood-thinning medication before undergoing hip replacement surgery recently.

While the new hip went in without a hitch, the side effect of going off the medication resulted in Mrs Westbrook suffering a stroke two days after the procedure.

The Kingaroy grandmother was one of eight people treated for strokes at Ipswich Hospital over the past week.

The higher rate of strokes - more than double the number usually seen in a week - coincided with National Stroke Week, when health authorities try to get the message out about the major warning signs.

Medical staff and past and present stroke patients attended a luncheon to mark Stroke Week at the hospital yesterday.

Ipswich Hospital stroke unit clinical nurse consultant Linda Edwards said while all eight patients had survived, strokes could be fatal or have life-changing effects.

"The two biggest risk factors are high blood pressure and diabetes," Ms Edwards said.

"Increasing age is a risk, in addition to family history and being a male.

"More men die of stroke than those who die from prostate cancer and more women die of stroke than those who die from breast cancer."

In fact, about one in six people will have a stroke in their lifetime.

Despite suffering heart problems in the past, Mrs Westbrook had never suffered a stroke before last Friday's scare.

The stroke has affected the use of her right hand and has also reduced her vision on the right side, but she is a good chance of making a recovery.

"I would like to think I could recover a little bit," she said.

"I will just take it one step at a time."

A website,, has been designed to help people get an early warning and perhaps change their habits before it's too late.

Topics:  disease health national stroke week stroke

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