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Data shows smokers unaware of link between smoking and stroke

Tuesday 22 May, 2007

Less than 1 in 10 Victorian smokers are able to identify smoking as risk factor of stroke, according to 2005 data from The Cancer Council Victoria

According to research 577 Australians died from stroke due to tobacco smoking in 2003 - a startling and disturbing 11 deaths every week.

Acting Director of Quit Victoria, Ms Suzie Stillman, said it was critical to inform the public about the link between smoking and stroke, given that stroke is the second leading cause of death in Australia.

"Smoking makes fatty deposits stick to the walls of the main artery to the brain. If they stop blood flow to your brain - or if a piece breaks off - it can cause a stroke that could kill or cause severe disability."

"Increasing public awareness around smoking as major risk factor for stroke is critical, especially given people who smoke are twice as likely to have a stroke than someone who has never smoked and the more you smoke the higher your risk of stroke."

Ms Stillman said smokers can reduce their risk of a stroke by quitting with studies showing the risk of stroke in most ex-smokers similar to people who have never smoked after five to fifteen years.

CEO of the National Stroke Foundation, Dr Erin Lalor said that as well as being the second highest killer, stroke was a leading cause of disability.

"It is not just the stroke survivor that is affected, but the whole family."

The National Stroke Foundation says that acting fast when seeing the signs of stroke was vital, as the faster a patient gets diagnosed and treated, the greater the chance of reducing damage to the brain.

FAST is a simple test for stroke. FAST stands for Facial weakness, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to act. Using the FAST test involves asking three simple questions:
• Face - Can the person smile, has their mouth or eyes drooped?
• Arms - Can the person raise both arms?
• Speech - Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
• Time - Act FAST and call 000.

A new public health campaign highlighting the link between smoking and stroke will appear in some states as of today


ends

Edwina Vellar,
Media Manager
ph: (03) 9635 5400
mob: 0417 303 811
email:
Edwina.Vellar@cancervic.org.au

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