Topic: Health

Stroke campaign launches with special focus on Māori

By Talisa Kupenga
  • Northland
  • Auckland
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty
  • North Island: West Coast
  • North Island: East Coast
  • Wellington
  • South Island

The FAST campaign to help kiwis recognise the main signs of stroke and to call 111 immediately begins today. The campaign will have a special focus on Māori, who are considered to be two to three times at greater risk than non- Māori of ischaemic stroke.

Valerie Teraitua was the primary caregiver for her late father Upokoina, who suffered three strokes in seven years.

“The first stroke he had in 2009 he was sitting outside a fish shop and he realised his arm was just raising. The second was a year later, it was probably the most frightening thing for me to see; my dad collapse at work and just become totally unconscious. I remember I was yelling out 'Dad! Dad!' in fright and in panic and the ambulance [staff] said that he can't hear me."

The FAST advertising campaign alerts people to the signs - a drooping face, weakness in the arm and slurred speech -  prompting them to act fast.Teraitua says in these situations time is a key factor.

The fastest drive I have ever been in was from Middlemore [Hospital] to Auckland Hospital when dad had his second stroke because time was against my father. That would have determined the severity of his stroke because the brain would have been starved of oxygen."

Her father passed away last year of aspiration pneumonia aged 60-years. Teraitua says people need to be aware of the signs because stroke onset can be sudden and unexpected.

"It wasn't until the first time that we identified the second time and then the third time.

"I have four children and two mokopuna (grandchildren) and I don't want [them] to go through what I've been through as a daughter so total health and wellbeing is definitely number one."

The three-month FAST campaign is a partnership between the Stroke Foundation, Ministry of Health, and Health Promotion Agency.

Facts from The Stroke Foundation (BULLETPOINT)

  • Around 9000 people have a stroke in NZ every year. This equates to one stroke every hour, every day.
  • Ministry of Health data says stroke kills around 2500 people each year; second only to heart disease.
  • The average age of stroke onset among Māori is 60-years, compared to 65-75-years for non-Māori.
  • Each day Two or three Māori are admitted to hospital as a result of stroke each day. Of around 800 Maori admitted around 140 will die from stroke.
  • It’s estimated the number of strokes every year could be halved, if people made better lifestyle choices around diet, exercise, alcohol and smoking.
  • There are 60,000 stroke survivors in the country.