Stroke is one of Australia's biggest killers. It kills more men than prostate cancer and more women than breast cancer annually^.
A stroke occurs when your brain can't get enough oxygen and nutrients to your brain. Your brain cells die rapidly and when a stroke occurs, it attacks up to 1.9 million brain cells per minute1.
Strokes cause damage to the brain and the impact of the stroke depends on the area of the brain it happens in.
With a person in Australia suffering from a stroke every 19 minutes2, it's important to know your risk factors for stroke and what you can do to reduce them.
If you think you are experiencing a stroke, this is a medical emergency. Please call 000 (triple zero) immediately.
How is a Stroke Risk Assessment taken?
A Blooms The Chemist Stroke Risk Assessment takes less than 10 minutes and is an initial step toward prevention.
Your Pharmacist will take your blood pressure and ask a series of simple lifestyle, familial history, and age-related questions, to assess your overall risk of stroke.
Should your Pharmacist consider you to be at risk of stroke, you will be advised to seek prompt medical advice. Written results will be provided to allow you to share this with your doctor.
Are you a My HealthRewards member? You can earn Rewards points for every Health Service*. Just let your team member know when booking your test.
Why do I need a Stroke Risk Assessment?
Strokes can impact anyone at any age. More than 80% of strokes can be prevented3, which means by taking charge of your health and modifying your lifestyle can lower your risk of stroke.
How much does a Stroke Risk Assessment cost?
A Stroke Risk Assessment is free. To make a booking and see if you're at risk of stroke, please click the button below.
Katerina shares her experiences of stroke
Katerina: Hi, I’m Katarina, and I was 47 when I had my first stroke. I was 48 when I had my second.
[Text on screen reads: Talk us through what happened when you had your first stroke.]
Katerina: When I had my first stroke, I was at work.
I had gotten up to read something, and found that my right eye was quite blurry; I couldn’t read properly and I went back, just trying to think that ‘it’ll get better soon, it’ll sort itself out’, and then I had my right side starting to go a little weird, but a colleague of mine who sat near me recognised the signs.
They asked me if I was okay, and I knew I wasn’t. I knew something was wrong. I didn’t, I had no idea what it was, but I knew something was wrong and he just called an ambulance.
It goes against everything I thought, but I knew something was wrong. He did that and I was really thankful.
[Text on screen reads: In 2020, 24% of first-ever strokes occurred in people aged 54 and under.^]
Katerina: I was 48 when I had my second stroke. There was approximately 6 months in between each stroke, so that was a little scary. Weirdly, the second stroke took a little bit more recovery because these symptoms weren’t as severe as the first one.
Again, I knew something felt wrong. It was not extreme or anything like that, but something felt wrong so it was, it was a little different. They were both very different, very different symptoms on both strokes.
[Text on screen reads: Were you aware you were having a stroke?]
Katerina: Before I had a stroke, I was aware of what they were, but I weren’t, I wasn’t aware of the symptoms and didn’t know what it was I was experiencing. I had no idea until we got to the hospital, and they had told me after all, after all the tests, that I had a stroke.
[Text on screen reads: What lifestyle changes have you made since your strokes?]
Katerina: Having a stroke impacted my life tremendously, and it was for the better. I instantly gave up smoking and started really looking after my health and what I was actually eating and doing in my everyday life.
[Text on screen reads: More than 445,087 Australians are living with the effects of stroke.^]
But, you know, there’s still times now where I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and, you know, you just smile and stick your tongue out and do these little things, so it never leaves you. It’s always a little bit there, but it’s the belief I know I’m doing everything I can to make sure I’m not at risk again.
[Text on screen reads: How did having two strokes affect the people around you?]
Katerina: Having two strokes affected the people around me a lot. It was very hard on them, because I was also giving up smoking, so I was probably pretty testy as well and they were careful not to upset me.
But, it would’ve been, it’s a very stressful situation in the household and I encouraged everyone to talk to people or talk to somebody professionally as well. They’ve just gone through it and had to have been strong for me, so I’m relying on them all the time to be strong for me at that point, that’s hard.
[Text on screen reads: What do you wish you knew prior to having a stroke?]
Katerina: If i could go back and look at the risk factors of, before having a stroke, smoking was deifnitely the big one, anything to do with your hormones for women, whether it be the pill, they’re all big risk factors and also having a better lifestyle.
I could’ve absolutely limited what I was doing and limited my risk of having any more strokes. Regular checks, and just talking to your doctors, pharmacists, I wish I had spoken to them more and wish I was more educated on things, because it’s really not widely known.
[Text on screen reads: More than 80 percent of strokes can be prevented^^^.]
Katerina: If you’re in your 40s, you have to know the risks of stroke. They can strike at any time. We’re living such fast-paced lives and the risks with stress and smoking and lifestyle… little things will help. I was extremely lucky to have someone beside me who recognised the signs, and because of that, I had no permanent damage because they treated it within four hours.
That saved my life. That saved my quality of life, so the risks and the signs, I think, are so important to learn and find out for yourself.
[Text on screen reads: Know your risk, make the shift. Get your FREE Stroke Risk Assessment.]
^Deloitte Access Economics. 2020. No postcode untouched, Stroke in Australia 2020.
^^O’Donnell M et al. Global and regional effects of potentially modifiable risk factors associated with acute stroke in 32 countries (INTERSTROKE): a casecontrol study. Lancet 2016; 388: 761–775.
^Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia's Health 2018, accessed 5 May 2023
1Saver JL. Time is brain – quantified. Stroke 2006; 37(1):263-266.
2Deloitte Access Economics, No postcode untouched, Stroke in Australia 2020, accessed 5 May 2023
3Stroke Foundation, Facts and Figures, accessed 5 May 2023
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of your brain is reduced. This prevents a specific part of your brain from getting the vital oxygen and other nutrients it needs from your blood1.
Your brain needs a continuous supply of oxygen and other nutrients from your blood, otherwise it will die and the area affected can suffer from permanent damage.
Stroke risk factors can be impacted by high blood pressure, lack of blood supply or blood flow to your brain as well as damage to your brain tissue.
1Healthdirect, Stroke, accessed 5 May 2023
What causes a stroke?
There are two main reasons that a stroke occurs: There is either a blood clot that forms in your brain or a bleed due to broken or burst blood vessels1.
Most blood clots won't harm you and can form anywhere in the body, but when they move to your heart or brain, they can cause heart attacks or strokes.
Stroke risk factors, which are factors that increase your risk of getting a stroke, include1:
High blood pressure is the biggest risk factor for stroke as it can lead to blocked arteries that are caused by blood clots or reduced blood circulation
High cholesterol, which can lead to blocked arteries or cardiovascular disease due to blood clots
Diabetes, as people with diabetes, are four times more likely to suffer a heart attack or a stroke2
Atrial fibrillation, which is a heart condition that has an irregular heartbeat or an abnormal heart rhythm. You can also experience a pounding or fluttering heartbeat, which is called a heart palpitation
Not getting enough physical activity, which is the second biggest risk factor for stroke. This is because blood clots are caused by a range of things, including being immobile for a long period of time, being overweight or having a family history of blood clots
Smoking, as smoking can narrow your blood vessels, which blocks blood flow
For women, taking birth control pills, also known as hormonal contraception, can increase your risk of stroke
However, there are some things you can't control that are risk factors for stroke, including having a family history of stroke or being older or a male.
A stroke is a medical emergency, which means treatment must be sought out immediately.
1Healthdirect, Stroke, accessed 23 May 2023
2Healthdirect, Diabetes, accessed 23 May 2023
What are the different types of strokes?
There are two different types of strokes, which are known as ischaemic strokes and haemorrhagic strokes.
Ischaemic stroke occurs when your blood supply is blocked by a blood clot that blocks your brain's blood vessels and this is the most common type of stroke1.
As blood carries oxygen and nutrients to your brain cells, your brain can be injured if enough blood flow can't get through.
Usually, your artery walls are thick and strong to resist the pressure of the blood flow inside them, but some diseases can impact this, including having small blood vessels or large artery disease.
They can also be caused by a dissection, which is a tear in a neck artery that can cause a clot in the artery wall.
Haemorrhagic strokes occur when blood leaks from a broken or burst blood vessel2. There are two types of haemorrhagic stroke, which are intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) and subarachnoid haemorrhage (SAH).
An intracerebral haemorrhage is when an artery inside the brain bursts and bleeds into the brain itself, and can be caused by chronic high blood pressure, your age as it's more common in people who are older and your gender3.
A subarachnoid haemorrhage is bleeding on the surface of the brain and can be caused by high blood pressure, emotional stress or head injuries occurring from a fall, car accident or blow to the head4.
Please note that in most cases it is not possible to differentiate between an ischemic stroke and a haemorrhagic stroke based on the symptoms as they usually present similarly.
1Stroke Foundation, Ischaemic stroke, accessed 23 May 2023
2Stroke Foundation, Haemorrhagic stroke, accessed 23 May 2023
3American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Intracerebral Haemorrhage, accessed 23 May 2023
4Better Health Victoria, Subarachnoid haemorrhage, accessed 23 May 2023
What is a mini stroke?
A mini-stroke is also called a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) and is where blood can't get to all parts of your brain for a short time1.
Unlike the other types of stroke, such as an ischaemic stroke and a haemorrhagic stroke, this stroke type has no lasting impact on how well you can move, think, talk, see and more.
TIA stroke symptoms are indistinguishable from the other type of stroke symptoms, and there is a high risk of stroke after you've experienced a transient ischemic attack.
Stroke prevention and stroke treatment are the same for transient ischemic attacks as they are for other types of strokes.
1Stroke Foundation, Transient ischaemic attack (TIA), accessed 23 May 2023
What are the early warning signs of a stroke?
The F.A.S.T. test is recommended by the Stroke Foundation as an easy way to remember the most common signs of stroke:
Face; Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
Arms; Can they lift both arms?
Speech; Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time; Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call 000 straight away.
Although these are the main warning signs of stroke, there are other signs of a stroke to look out for, including1:
Difficulty speaking or understanding
Headaches that are usually severe and abrupt (have come from nowhere) or an unexplainable change in the pattern of headaches
Loss of vision, including decreased vision in one or both eyes
Weakness or numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg on either or both sides of the body
1Stroke Foundation, Signs of Stroke, accessed 23 May 2023
How is a stroke treated?
Getting medical treatment as fast as possible is vital for stroke treatment. Every second counts when it comes to brain injuries, as brain cells begin to die quickly if there is no oxygen or nutrients getting to where they need to be.
Tests that are recommended vary from person to person, but can include1:
The treatment for a stroke also depends on the type of stroke you have.
For ischaemic stroke, you can take medicine to dissolve your blood clots2.
For haemorrhagic strokes, you'll need immediate medical attention and some treatment may include surgery to relieve pressure or swelling in your brain as well as intensive blood pressure control2.
1Better Health Victoria, Stroke, accessed 23 May 2023
2Healthdirect, Stroke, accessed 23 May 2023
Can I prevent getting a stroke?
More than four in five strokes are preventable, so there are many things you are able to do to prevent your stroke risk. This includes1:
Making healthy lifestyle changes, including being at a healthy weight, eating less processed foods and keeping active
Monitoring your high blood pressure and your high cholesterol through regular blood tests to make sure they are at healthy levels
Reducing the amount of saturated fat in your diet as saturated fatty deposits can build up on your artery walls
Working with your doctor to treat any conditions you have that can increase your risk factor of stroke, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)
Quitting smoking, as smoking cigarettes doubles your risk of having a stroke
Avoiding or reducing alcohol, as drinking alcohol increases your risk of having a stroke
If you've already had a stroke or a TIA (transient ischaemic attack), it's important to make lifestyle changes as soon as you can to reduce your risk of another stroke.
1Better Health Victoria, Stroke, accessed 23 May 2023
How does a stroke impact your body?
A stroke can have a significant impact on your mind and body. In some cases, it can cause permanent loss of function.
However, the impact of a stroke depends on which part of the brain was damaged as well as by how much.
The most common types of disability after a stroke are1:
Restricted physical abilities
Weakness or paralysis of the limbs on one side of the body
A slowed ability to communicate
Difficulty gripping or holding things
There are also emotional changes that can occur after a stroke, including changes to your mood and even your personality1.
Stroke survivors need a lot of help from their doctors and other healthcare professionals that can help after a stroke.
Stroke recovery can include a lot of lifestyle changes depending on how the stroke impacted your brain, including:
Living arrangements, as you may need to move into care or make modifications to your home
Your level of independence, as you may need to rely on carers
Your ability to work and handle complex skills such as driving
However, stroke rehabilitation can help you get the most out of your life after a stroke.
1Better Health Victoria, Effects of Stroke, accessed 23 May 2023