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Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Page: 11371

Mrs MAY (9:41 AM) —I rise this morning to promote the important work of the Gold Coast Stroke Support Group, an affiliate member of the National Stroke Foundation and the Stroke Association of Queensland. The Gold Coast support group provides invaluable assistance to those who have suffered from stroke or know of someone suffering from the effects of stroke. The support group provides its members with up-to-date information and education in the areas of prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support.

While many of us know someone affected by stroke, I doubt many of us are aware of the true extent. Stroke is Australia’s second single greatest killer after coronary heart disease and a leading cause of disability. Stroke kills more women than breast cancer. In 2009, Australians will suffer around 60,000 new and recurrent strokes. That is one stroke every 10 minutes. One in five people having a first-ever stroke dies within one month, and one in three dies within a year. In the next 10 years more than half a million people will suffer a stroke. About 88 per cent of stroke survivors live at home and most have a disability. Close to 20 per cent of all strokes occur to people under 55 years of age. Stroke costs Australia an estimated $2.14 billion a year.

Perhaps the most important fact is that, according to the Stroke Foundation, stroke is preventable. While finding the cure for threatening illnesses and diseases is unquestionably important, prevention always has been and always will be better than a cure. It is time that Australians got serious about preventative health measures. We need to start taking more responsibility for our own health. We need to educate ourselves and each other about prevention. As a nation, we need to increase our commitment to a healthy and active lifestyle. Given the volume of information provided through interest groups such as the Gold Coast support group, the National Stroke Foundation and the Stroke Association of Queensland, ignorance is no longer an excuse. For too long we have relied on hardworking medical researchers to provide that lifesaving cure, while as individuals we absolve ourselves of any responsibility for our own health.

It is imperative that we continue to raise prevention awareness. It is imperative that the great work of the Gold Coast support group is promoted and that the residents of the Gold Coast are aware of the preventive measures to reduce the risk of stroke. While certain sections of the community will always remain at a higher risk of stroke, there are a number of steps we can take to decrease its likelihood, and some of those are to give up smoking, to lower our cholesterol levels, to avoid excessive salt intake, to moderate our intake of alcohol, to pay greater attention to diet and to make a strong commitment to regular exercise. These are all fundamental to reducing many of the risk factors. I commend the Gold Coast Stroke Support Group for the work they do and encourage people to get along to their meeting on 4 November to hear more about the great work they are doing.