Stroke can affect people of any age. It can happen to anyone, at any time, and anywhere. “A Stroke happens either when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off because of a blood clot, or because a brain artery ruptures and leads to a haemorrhage.” But strokes happen for different reasons in children and adults. Strokes in children are often associated with existing conditions mostly commonly, congenital heart disease, sickle cell disease, and infectious diseases.
Worldwide 1 in 4 adults will have a stroke and this condition is the leading cause of death in adults the Caribbean. However, according to the World Health Organization, 80% of strokes are preventable. A person can decrease their risk of having a stroke by being physically active, not smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, eating a healthy diet low in salt, sugar and saturated and trans fats, maintaining a healthy weight and reducing levels of ‘bad” LDL cholesterol. Most importantly, half of the strokes are linked to high blood pressure while diabetes increases your risk for strokes.
The Region of the Caribbean has some of the highest prevalence of risk factors for stroke. It is critical that in order to reduce your risk of a stroke, that you know your numbers: blood pressure, cholesterol, waist circumference, Body Mass Index, and blood sugar if you have diabetes or hypertension try your best to ensure that it is under control.
In order to reduce death and disability from a stroke, we all need to recognise the signs and symptoms-, facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulties, sudden imbalance and/or vision loss. And we must make every effort to get the stroke sufferer to the hospital within the first 24 hours as this is a critical step towards getting proper and timely treatment for someone who has a stroke.
Recalling our commitment to achieving our targets and mandates to reduce premature mortality from strokes by a third by 2030, Caribbean governments, civil society and all stakeholders have to do their part to ensure that public health programmes are in place to prevent and treat stroke its risk factors.
This year’s World Stroke Day observed on 29th October seeks to raise awareness of stroke and about the importance of physical activity in preventing strokes. So come, Join the MoveMent to prevent stroke. Power through Collective Action.
 Caribbean Public Health Agency. State of Public Health in the Caribbean Region 2014-2016. Building Resilience to Immediate and Increasing Threats: Vector-Borne Diseases and Childhood Obesity. Port of Spain, Trinidad, and Tobago: CARPHA; 2017