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Poll reveals Canadians' misunderstandings about stroke

Angela Mulholland
Published Date: 
10 June 2013
CTV News
Original article: 

New figures released by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada suggest that Canadians don't have a great understanding of strokes, nor what’s involved in recovering from one.

The poll found that half of all Canadians have a close friend or family member who has had a stroke, yet many don’t realize that it can take patients weeks or months to recover.

Dr. Sean Dukelow, a researcher at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary who focuses on stroke, says he’s particularly struck by the myth that one in five Canadians thinks a stroke is always fatal.

“That’s not the case; only about 10 per cent of people pass on after they have a stroke,” Dukelow explained to CTV’s Canada AM Monday morning.

“A large majority go on to return to life, although recovery can sometimes take weeks or months.”

Dukelow says there have been a lot of advancements in stroke care in the past few decades, and more people than ever are surviving. The first big advancement, he says, involves stroke prevention, and the identification of key risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure, inactivity, and being overweight.

And yet, according to the poll, less than two-thirds of Canadians are aware that most strokes can be prevented. As well, nearly one in six believe once a person has recovered from a stroke there is nothing they can do to prevent another one. The fact is, the foundation says, up to 80 per cent of premature heart disease and strokes can be prevented by managing risk factors.

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