SOURCE: Heart and Stroke Foundation

Heart and Stroke Foundation

January 12, 2016 01:00 ET

Experts Join Heart and Stroke Foundation in Calling for a Dedicated Stroke Unit in Manitoba

Heart and Stroke Foundation, With Support From Stroke Neurologists and the Canadian Stroke Consortium, Calling for Immediate Commitment From Provincial Government

WINNIPEG, MB--(Marketwired - January 12, 2016) - Stroke neurologists and the Canadian Stroke Consortium are now lending their voice in advocating for the creation of a provincial stroke unit in Manitoba. The Heart and Stroke Foundation has been advocating for this much-needed unit for more than 10 years and is encouraging the government to provide a firm commitment to deliver a stroke unit.

Manitoba is the only province in Canada without a dedicated stroke unit.

"They've been pledging support for many years, but it's time to make a solid plan -- complete with timelines and monetary commitment -- to get this unit into place," says Elizabeth Ready, Chair, Provincial Advisory Board, for the Heart and Stroke Foundation in Manitoba.

"Stroke units save lives -- period. They increase the odds that a stroke patient will survive, return home and regain independence. Establishing a stroke unit in Winnipeg is imperative to provide Manitobans with the best stroke care -- and the same access to evidence-based care as every other province," Ready adds.

Manitoba's opposition parties have illustrated clear support. In early December 2015, the Manitoba Liberal Party committed to a stroke unit in its 2016 election platform; also, the PC Party of Manitoba has brought forward three private member resolutions in support of a dedicated stroke unit over the past five years.

A stroke unit is a specialized hospital unit dedicated to the care and management of stroke patients and is staffed by an interprofessional team that has specialized training in stroke care and follows stroke best practices. The stroke team has the knowledge, expertise and resources to help patients achieve the fullest recovery possible. This early expert care has an impact on how well a patient continues to recover further down the road. Manitoba is the only province in Canada without a stroke unit.

Dr. S. Bal, stroke neurologist formerly with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA), says, "our politicians need to make a commitment to adequately fund a stroke unit in Winnipeg for the management of stroke survivors so that they will receive the medical care that they deserve in order to hasten their recovery and improve their long-term outcomes." Dr. Bal also says he left Manitoba to practice elsewhere because of the lack of action to establish a stroke unit in Winnipeg.

Stroke units help prevent stroke complications, prevent stroke recurrence, accelerate recovery in survivors and provide early rehabilitation therapy, leading to significantly improved health outcomes for patients. They can reduce the chance of disability and death by as much as 30 per cent compared to stroke patients not cared for on a stroke unit.

The Canadian Stroke Consortium, the national professional organization for stroke, is also strongly in favour of a Manitoba stroke unit as this will bring the province in line with the Canadian Stroke Best Practice Recommendations.

"It is absolutely clear a stroke unit is crucial for a city the size of Winnipeg. Manitoba's stroke patients deserve to receive the same quality and timely care that Canadians are experiencing in other provinces across the country," says Dr. Andrew Demchuk, Deputy Chair, Canadian Stroke Consortium, and Director, Calgary Stroke Program.

There are an estimated 62,000 strokes in Canada annually -- one every nine minutes -- and approximately 2,000 strokes in Manitoba alone each year, roughly six each day. The average acute care cost is more than $27,000 per stroke patient. A stroke unit could save the province hundreds of thousands of dollars by reducing patient length of stay in hospital and the need for in-patient rehab.

According to a study published in the medical journal Stroke in July, the prevalence of stroke survivors living with disability will as much as double in some regions of Canada by 2038, and highest projected increases are for Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Delivering a stroke unit in Manitoba will help to lessen the burden of stroke on an already stressed healthcare system.

Stroke facts:

  • A stroke is a sudden loss of brain function due to a disruption of blood supply.
  • Stroke is the third leading cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in Canada.
  • More than 400,000 Canadians are living with the effects of stroke.
  • Stroke costs the Canadian economy approximately $27-billion each year.
  • Brain cells die at a rate of 1.9 million per minute after stroke. Timely and quality care means brain cells can be saved.
  • Stroke can happen at any age. Stroke among people under 65 is increasing and stroke risk factors are increasing for young adults.
  • Half of Canadians report having a close friend or family member who survived a stroke.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation's mission is to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery. A volunteer-based health charity, we strive to tangibly improve the health of every Canadian family, every day. Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen.

Contact Information

  • For more information, contact:
    Melody Lynch
    C 306-250-7235
    Heart and Stroke Foundation