Most people think of stroke as a health issue for older people. But that’s not necessarily the case.
Ida Dempsey was a fit and healthy mother of three kids. Out of the blue, she had a stroke at age 40.
Ida was a keen runner – and had run a couple of half marathons. She was preparing to run the full Melbourne Marathon before she had her stroke in 2011.
Despite her regular exercise, Ida didn’t realise that she had high blood pressure. And it was her unchecked high blood pressure that caused her stroke.
Ida was very fortunate to receive immediate medical attention after her stroke. She was at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to watch the rugby. Although she didn’t recognise the tingling in her hand as an early warning sign, her friends called for paramedics when they noticed her face droop.
And when the paramedics got to her they thought she was drunk because she was slurring her speech.
Ida exhibited the three most common signs of stroke. Everyone needs to recognise the FAST signs.
Face – has the mouth or face drooped?
Arms – tingling or inability to raise their arms
Speech – slurring of speech and confusion
Time – time is critical – if you see these signs call 000 immediately
The immediate treatment Ida received significantly improved the speed and extent of her recovery. Since she had her stroke, she has done as much as she can to raise awareness of the signs of stroke and the fact it can happen to anyone at any time.
She encourages people of all ages to have regular health checks. Ida says she was healthy and had no reason to see the doctor. But she now knows that a health check would have identified her high blood pressure. She’s adamant her stroke could have been avoided.
Thankfully, the FAST response of Ida’s friends on that night at the MCG saved her life. Her message is simple: have a health check and know the signs of stroke.
Ida Dempsey has charted her recovery on her Facebook page, Dream Run. She has learned to run again and completed her first Melbourne Marathon in September 2014. Ida raises awareness and funds for the National Stroke Foundation.