Need for timely treatment stressed

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An alarming number of South Canterbury people are ignoring signs of a stroke, a local health professional says.
‘If it’s a small stroke we can potentially prevent a follow-on
episode. ‘
— South Canterbury District Health Board clinical nurse specialist for
stroke Julian Waller
On average, up to 150 people go to Timaru Hospital with stroke symptoms each year. Of those patients, about 80% seek help too late to receive a clot-breaking injection.
That trend needed to change and South Canterbury District Health Board clinical nurse specialist for stroke Julian Waller hoped a nationwide campaign would help.
A stroke happens when a blockage such as a clot blocks the blood flow to the brain, or when a burst blood vessel bleeds into the brain.
Signs include a drooping face on one side, weakness of an arm and jumbled, slurred or lost speech.
Some South Canterbury patients were ignoring the signs for hours and in some cases days, which was a major concern, Mr Waller said.
If a patient sought help within three hours, an injection to break up the clot could be given to them, he said.
‘‘Once the clot has been there a longer period of time it’s very hard to dissolve.’’
He said the 80% who left it too late ended up with some degree of ‘‘disablement’’.
‘‘And, it could have been avoided.
‘‘If it’s a small stroke we can potentially prevent a follow-on episode,’’ he said.
Mr Waller hopes to see major changes in attitudes and awareness as a result of the nationwide campaign being rolled out this month.
‘‘The campaign is applicable to Timaru because the ones I see aren’t coming in within the time frame.’’
Timaru Hospital had the means to provide the required care, he said.
Patients did not necessarily suffer all the symptoms of stroke — just one was enough to raise alarm bells.
‘‘You don’t have to have all of them — just one of them. And, if it’s not a stroke, well good — all the better.’’ – The best thing to do if you suspect you or someone you know is having a stroke is to call