IN 2019 and at just 44, Shelley Christie had a headache and kept dropping what she was holding in her left hand.
Not feeling well, she sat on her bed talking at their Mount Martha home to her husband Craig, who was finding it difficult to understand her speech and noticed her face had “dropped”. It was pretty obvious to them by then that something serious was happening.
Medical tests followed quickly, and it was confirmed that Shelley had suffered a stroke, something she had not expected to hear and something that has made her look at her own mortality and change her life.
While she did have minor blood pressure issues at the time and had suffered DVT from an injury two years earlier, Christie did not think she was a candidate for a stroke.
She is now focussed on leading a fit, healthy and active life, spending as much time with her two girls and husband and understanding the triggers and warning signs.
A regular at Go Soccer Mums, a community football group, Christie makes sure she eats well and keeps a watchful eye on her health.
“A scare like that certainly changes you mentally. You realise how precious health is and it made me take time to rest,” she said.
Christie and her daughters are participating in the Stroke Foundation’s annual physical activity fundraiser, Stride4Stroke, that started on 1 November.
Stride4Stroke sees participants set their own activity and fundraising goal, with the focus on increasing “moving minutes”, whether they are walking, running, dancing, cycling, swimming, or setting a movement target in stroke recovery.
Stroke Foundation CEO Dr Lisa Murphy said more than 3.1 million Australians were not getting any exercise.
“Our research tells us as many as 80 per cent of strokes can be prevented by managing blood pressure, cholesterol, eating healthily, being active, not smoking, and only drinking alcohol in moderation,” Murphy said.
“One million strokes a year globally are linked to physical inactivity. We know that 30 minutes of exercise five times a week can reduce your stroke risk by 25 per cent.”
A stroke attacks the brain and can change lives in an instant. One Australian will have a stroke every 19 minutes.
“Stride4Stroke is a wonderful way to improve our health, feel good and raise money for the Stroke Foundation in the process,” Murphy said.
“It’s not too late sign up to Stride4Stroke to stride your own way, wherever you are. Reduce your stroke risk and make a positive difference to the stroke community.
“One in four people globally will have a stroke in their lifetime.”
Murphy said someone in every household and workplace in Australia should know the F.A.S.T (Face, Arms, Speech and Time) message.
“Time is brain. When a stroke strikes, it attacks up to 1.9 million brain cells. Calling triple zero at the first sign of stroke is vital.”