Time to Close Gap on Indigenous health

Stroke Foundation

Stroke Foundation is calling for increased stroke awareness initiatives to prevent unnecessary death and disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The theme of this year’s National Close the Gap Day is “Strong Culture, Strong Youth: Our Legacy, Our Future,” and focuses on achieving positive long-term health goals.

Stroke Foundation Interim Executive Officer, Dr Lisa Murphy said it’s time to bridge the divide in health outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

“The statistics are shocking. We know Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are 1.5 times more likely to die from stroke than non-Indigenous Australians, and stroke is the sixth leading cause of death in Indigenous Australia,” Dr Murphy said.

“Communities need to be empowered to protect themselves. Stroke is a serious medical emergency which requires urgent medical attention, and we need to work so that more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are able to recognise the signs of stroke and know what to do when stroke strikes.

“We believe everyone has the chance to lead a healthy life. More must be done to educate people about stroke prevention and awareness in the community.”

Dr Murphy said more than 80 per cent of strokes are preventable by managing health conditions like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol.

“I urge people to visit their local health worker, learn about their risks and make healthy habits part of their everyday life. This can include increasing our physical activity, eating a balanced diet, becoming smoke free and only drinking alcohol in moderation,” she said.

“When a stroke happens, it kills up to 1.9 million brain cells per minute, but medical treatments can stop this damage. The vital first step in accessing these treatments is recognising the F.A.S.T. stroke signs and calling triple zero (000) straight away,” Dr Murphy said.

“We want all Australians to have the knowledge and support they need to prevent stroke and to act fast if stroke strikes.”To recognise stroke, think F.A.S.T and ask these questions:

Face – Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?

Arms – Can they lift both arms?

Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?

Time – Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call 000 straight away

Stroke Foundation has a dedicated national resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which is available to the public. The Our Stroke Journey booklet is available here.

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