Raising awareness about Stroke Month

A stroke occurs every 10 minutes in Canada and can have lasting and devastating effects; the Heart & Stroke Foundation is continually looking to help those affected.

June is stroke month and as such the Heart & Stroke Foundation is looking to raise awareness, funds, and create an understanding of the effects of a stroke.

“When we talk to our canvasser volunteers they always say that there’s a reason that they want to support us and give us time. There’s either a family member or a friend or someone they know that’s been affected,” said Michelle Sluchinski, area manager for Red Deer.

Stroke Month aims to educate, fundraise and promote awareness in the community.

In its 20th year, Sluchinski says one of the main benefits of the door-to-door campaign is the opportunity to educate the public about stroke regarding the risk factors, what to look for and general awareness on the warning signs.

“Anyone could be at risk, which is why we list those risk factors. There might be someone of a younger age with high blood pressure or a senior who has previously had strokes who could be at risk.”

Some facts to acknowledge about stroke, pointed out by Sluchinski, include that 80% of strokes are preventable, stroke affects men and women of all ages, and almost 90% of survivors are left with physical, emotional or cognitive problems.

In the midst of Stroke Month is a 17-year-old fundraiser called the Golf Classic. In 2010, this tournament raised $55,000 and is expected to exceed that number this year.

The event is held at the Innisfail Golf Club which helps minimize operating costs, allowing more money to be donated to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Funds raised by events throughout the year go to supporting life-saving research including $3.5 million to researchers working in Alberta.

The Heart & Stroke Foundation also supports the Living with Stroke program by funding the materials and educational resources for stroke survivors and their caregivers. It also provides follow-ups within their care settings.

“The most important thing for Central Alberta is that we have 700-plus volunteers going door to door talking to their neighbours about the fact that June is Stroke Month.”

One in three deaths in Canada are caused by heart disease or stroke. As a part of June’s awareness campaign, Sluchinski says it is vital for the public to know the devastating effects of a stroke.

“People are spurred into action because of what has affected them emotionally.”

The Heart & Stroke Foundation aims to run activity based fundraisers because being physically active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce the chances of suffering a stroke.

For more information, call 403-342-4435 or visit www.heartandstroke.ab.ca.