Know the signs of a stroke

World Stroke Day – October 29 – is a good time for Islanders and health care providers to talk about risk factors, signs of a stroke and the importance of seeking emergency care.

“These conversations can save lives and make a difference in outcomes following a stroke,” says Minister of Health and Wellness Robert Mitchell. “While the impact of stroke will be different for everyone, on World Stroke Day we also want to highlight the resilience and capacity of stroke survivors and caregivers to build on the things that stroke can’t take away -- their determination to keep going on the recovery journey.”

The FAST campaign, a partnership with Health PEI, Island EMS and Heart and Stroke, reminds Islanders of stroke signs and to act FAST at their first symptom.

FAST stands for: Face: is it drooping? Arms: can you raise both? Speech: is it slurred or jumbled? Time: to call 9-1-1 right away. 

On Prince Edward Island, approximately four out of every 1,000 Islanders will suffer their first stroke each year. Over 470 Islanders suffered a stroke last year and more than 4,500 Islanders living today are stroke survivors. 

“It is really important that Islanders take the time to speak with their primary care provider about their risk factors for stroke, and that they know the signs of a stroke so that they can respond quickly by calling 9-1-1 for emergency medical care,” said Dr. Charles Duffy, emergency medicine physician and medical consultant to the PEI Stroke Program. 

“As a health care system, we have worked closely with colleagues across the province, including partners such as Island EMS and Heart and Stroke, to develop specialized services and supports for Islanders who are at risk for a stroke or who have suffered a stroke. Islanders can also help reduce their risk of stroke by maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise, limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding tobacco use and smoking,” Duffy said. 

“Heart & Stroke places a significant priority on reducing the toll of stroke in our population,” says PEI CEO, Charlotte Comrie. “We strive to educate Islanders on the FAST signs and the importance of calling 9-1-1 immediately. 

“In February of this year, our polling following a public awareness campaign on television showed a significant increase in the number of Islanders who were able to recall at least two of the signs. World Stroke Day is a wonderful opportunity to expand our outreach with this important message that has the potential to save lives and improve outcomes for individuals who experience stroke.” 

A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Without blood, brain cells can be damaged or destroyed. This damage can have different effects depending on where it happens in the brain and how long the blood flow is interrupted. A person’s body, mobility and speech, as well as how they think and feel, can all be affected. 

The symptoms of Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) can be the same as the symptoms of stroke except they get better within a few minutes or hours. Having a TIA is a warning sign and a medical emergency – it’s an indication that the person is at a higher risk of having a stroke. 
For more information about PEI’s Stroke Care Program or help in navigating stroke recovery, call the Provincial Stroke Navigator toll-free at 1-844-871-0634 or visit www.healthpei.ca/stroke.

Media contact:
Amanda Hamel
Senior Communications Officer
Health PEI
(902) 368-6135


Stroke Facts:
•    A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function.
•    Brain cells die at a rate of 1.9 million per minute during stroke.
•    62,000 strokes occur in Canada each year – that is one stroke every nine minutes.
•    83 per cent of those who have a stroke and make it to hospital will now survive.
•    Each year, more than 13,000 Canadians die from stroke.
•    Hundreds of thousands of Canadians are living with the effects of stroke.
•    Stroke is a leading cause of acquired adult disability.
•    Stroke can happen at any age. 
•    Stroke among people under 65 is increasing and stroke risk factors are increasing for young adults.
•    Half of Canadians report having a close friend or family member who survived a stroke.

Risk Factors for Stroke: 
Risk factors for stroke include, but are not limited to: 
•    high blood pressure, 
•    atrial fibrillation, 
•    high cholesterol, 
•    diabetes, and 
•    circulation problems. 

Some risk factors for stroke are unavoidable, such as: 
•    older age, 
•    gender,
•    family history, and 
•    ethnicity.

General Inquiries

Health PEI
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE   C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-6130
Fax: 902-368-6136


Your Health Privacy

Media Inquiries
Phone: 902-368-6135

Health PEI Board of Directors

If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department.

If you are unsure what to do about a health issue or if you need health information, call 8-1-1.

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