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Walter Gretzky urges Waterloo/Wellington to make the right call, 9-1-1

October 29 2010

Grand River Hospital joined local stroke survivors and Walter Gretzky, Canada’s best-known hockey father and recipient of the Order of Canada to celebrate World Stroke Day. Gretzky knows the importance of receiving medical care – fast, and credits prompt medical attention as a key factor in saving his life when he suffered a stroke 18 years ago.

“The immediate care I received made it possible for me to be treated by experts that saved my life,” Gretzky says. “Anyone who has the symptoms of a stroke should call 9-1-1 immediately. The ambulance will get you to the closest stroke centre where experts are trained to help you. It can mean the difference between life and death.”

One of every six people throughout the world will suffer a stroke. However, research indicates that only 60 per cent call 9-1-1 for immediate care. Failing to recognize the warning signs of a stroke delays the life-saving medical care provided at designated stroke centres.

Dr. Sloka, GRH’s director of neurology outlined the warning signs of a stroke. “Stroke symptoms usually appear suddenly and include loss of strength or numbness in the face, arm or leg, difficulty speaking, vision problems, severe and unusual headache and loss of balance.

“If you or someone you are with has any of these symptoms please call 9-1-1 right away. Immediate medical attention can help to reduce the impact of a stroke but patients must be seen as soon as possible.”

As the District Stroke Centre for Waterloo Wellington communities, Grand River Hospital admitted 400 patients in 2008 for care after a stroke and treated more than 1000 patients in its emergency department. The hospital provides 24/7 life-saving acute care for patients suffering a stroke, education and treatment plans for stroke prevention, inpatient and outpatient care, and rehabilitation for patients who have suffered a stroke.

Today, October 29, 2010 has been designated ‘World Stroke Day’ by the World Stroke Organization. Around the globe, the importance of recognizing the symptoms of stroke and calling 9-1-1 immediately is being promoted to save lives.

“The numbers 9-1-1 are as important to me as the numbers 99,” said Gretzky.

For more information, please contact:
Cheryl Evans, Public Affairs
Office: (519) 749-4300 extension 3899

World Stroke Day facts

Stroke is the third leading cause of death and disability in Ontario
  • Over age 65, stroke is more common than heart attack
  • The total economic burden of stroke in Ontario is $1 billion a year
  • Stroke incurs significant healthcare costs: stroke patients have the longest acute care length of stay in hospitals of any disease, and the most alternate level of care days in health care facilities waiting for a more appropriate bed

Recognize the warning signs
  • Weakness: sudden loss of strength or sudden numbness in the face, arm or leg – even if only temporary
  • Trouble speaking: sudden difficulty speaking or understanding – even if only temporary
  • Vision problems: sudden trouble with vision – even if only temporary
  • Headache: sudden severe and/or unusual headache
  • Dizziness: sudden loss of balance, especially with any of the above signs

How can I reduce my risk?
  • Recognize the five warning signs of a stroke
  • Call 911
  • Know your numbers; blood pressure, waist circumference, lipids
  • Blood pressure within normal limits: 140/80 or 130/80 for diabetics
  • Be active
  • Quit smoking
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