Country divide in stroke prevention and treatment

Friday, 23rd June, 2017

If you live in a rural or regional area, your likelihood of suffering a stroke rises.

WHERE you live can affect your stroke chances.

People living in country Australia were 19 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke than their metro dwelling counterparts, according to a report by the Stroke Foundation.

It also found 12 of the 20 hotspots for stroke were located in regional areas. Towns on the NSW coast seemed particularly over-represented, with the Lyne, Page and Cowper electorates, all on the state's mid to north coast, the top three regional areas for stroke in 2017.

The foundation's chief executive Sharon McGowan said due to limited access to best practice treatment, regional Australian were also more likely to die or be left with a significant disability as a result of a stroke.

"In 2017, Australians will suffer more than 56,000 strokes and many of these will be experienced by people living in regional Australia," Ms McGowan said.

"Advancements in stroke treatment and care mean stroke is no longer a death sentence for many, however patient outcomes vary widely across the country depending on where people live.

"Stroke can be treated and it can be beaten. It is a tragedy that only a small percentage of Australian stroke patients are getting access to the latest treatments and ongoing specialist care that we know saves lives."

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in Australia.

Currently, there is one stroke every nine minutes and without action it is expected to rise to one stroke every four minutes by 2050.

"Stroke doesn't discriminate, it impacts people of all ages and while more people are surviving stroke, its impact on survivors and their families is far reaching," Ms McGowan said.

In wake of the report's findings, the Stroke Foundation has called on a funded national plan to prevent and treat stroke and support survivors.

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