Walter Gretzky urges making the right call; calling 9-1-1 is best medicine for stroke sufferers

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Posted Oct 29th, 2010

Niagara, Ontario: Walter Gretzky, Canada’s best-known hockey father and recipient of the Order of Canada, knows the importance of receiving medical care – fast. Gretzky credits the prompt medical attention he received as a key factor in saving his life when he suffered a stroke as a result of a near-fatal brain aneurysm 18 years ago. 

“The immediate care I received made it possible for me to be treated by experts that saved my life,” Gretzky says. “Anyone who has the symptoms of a stroke should call 9-1-1 immediately. The ambulance will get you to the closest stroke centre where experts are trained to help you. It can mean the difference between life and death.” 

One of every six people throughout the world will suffer a stroke. However, research indicates that only 54% call 9-1-1 for immediate care. Failing to recognize the warning signs of a stroke delays life-saving medical care provided at designated stroke centres of which Greater Niagara General Site of the Niagara Health System is one.

“Stroke symptoms usually appear suddenly and include loss of strength or numbness in the face, arm or leg, difficulty speaking, vision problems, severe and unusual headache and loss of balance,” says Dr. Alan Daniel, Hospitalist with the Niagara District Stroke Program. “These warning signs usually come about suddenly. If you or someone you are with has any of these symptoms, please call 9-1-1 right away so that paramedics can transport you to the nearest stroke centre. Immediate medical attention can help to reduce the burden of a stroke; remember time is brain.”

Every six seconds – regardless of age or gender – someone, somewhere will die from a stroke. 

“In Ontario, stroke is the 3rd leading cause of death and disability,” says Leanne Hammond, Niagara District Stroke Care Coordinator. “The Niagara Health System admitted approximately 700 strokes and transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) last year.  The District Stroke Team works across the continuum to ensure best practice stroke care is available to all Niagara residents.” 

Today, October 29, 2010, has been designated World Stroke Day by the World Stroke Organization. Around the globe, the importance of recognizing the symptoms of stroke and calling 9-1-1 immediately are being promoted. Walter Gretzky is appearing with local stroke survivors in Kitchener, Brantford, Hamilton and Niagara.

“Number 9-1-1 is as important as 99,” Walter said, adding, “I know firsthand the importance of receiving fast medical attention.”

"Anyone who has the symptoms of a stroke should call 9-1-1 immediately. The ambulance will get you to the closest stroke centre where experts are trained to help you. It can mean the difference between life and death."

Walter Gretzky

 

For more information, media may contact:

Caroline Bourque Wiley
Public Affairs Consultant
905-378-4647, ext. 43113
cwiley@niagarahealth.on.ca

Niagara Health System