WATCH: Stroke survivor’s wife gives signs to look out for
WHEN Helen Safstrom saw her husband's drooped face after he was taken home by his work mates, her heart skipped a beat.
With more than 20 years nursing experience, she knew exactly what was wrong with him on that terrible November day last year.
Her Shayne, now aged 58, was having a run-in with the end result of the "silent killer" high blood pressure - Shayne's left-side facial slag was sinister, he was having a stroke.
"Boys, put him in the car," she yelled.
After a speedy trip to the Hervey Bay Hospital's emergency ward, which in retrospect should have been via an ambulance, Shayne was given the life-saving medicine he needed, she said.
Its quick administration meant the clot in his brain was broken down in time before any permanent damage was done.
If left untreated, the bloody mass would have completely restricted oxygenated blood flow throughout his grey matter leaving him severely disabled at best.
"If he hadn't been treated, he would have been in hospital for months, I would have been left nursing him," Helen said.
"A stroke can affect their (the patient's) thinking, their mobility and every part of your body," she said.
But Shayne was one of the lucky ones - he escaped his stroke undamaged and is now back to work.
The Hinkler electorate, which includes Hervey Bay, has the highest rate of stroke incidences in Queensland.
Stroke Foundation Queensland Executive Officer Libby Dunstan said up to 430 strokes were recorded last year in the region, an unsurprising tally given more than 29,000 Hinkler electorate residents have high-blood pressure, a leading stroke risk-factor, she said.
"High blood pressure is among the most important known risk factors for stroke, causing damage to blood vessel walls, which may eventually lead to a stroke," she said.
"…the only way to know your blood pressure is to have it checked."
Ms Dunstan said there often no outwards signs of high blood pressure, many with the condition may not even be aware they have it.
"...it is vital that locals take the opportunity to get checked," she said.
While Helen Safstrom, who is also a Stroke Foundation volunteer ambassador, knew her husband Shayne Tomkins was afflicted when the left part of his face remained drooped as his right smiled on her request, there are other symptoms to check for.
Use the FAST rules to determine. If any of these symptoms present, call 000 immediately.
1. F: Check their face, has their mouth drooped?
2. A: Can they lift both arms?
3. S: Is their speech slurred and do they understand you?:
4. T: Time is critical. Call 000 straight away.
"It is (stokes) are just so common," Helen said.
"People don't realise how common it is, one in six Australian's will experience one".
For more, visit www.strokefoundation.com.au.