Stroke Awareness | Western Cape Government

Stroke Awareness

What is a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when blood vessels carrying oxygen and nutrients to part of the brain suddenly becomes blocked or bursts. When this happens, part of the brain can’t get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so the affected brain cells die. 

Recognising a Stroke: Smile, Talk, Raise Both Arms (STR)

This can result to parts of the brain being permanently damaged. You may experience feelings of shock, fear and panic, which stems from not knowing what's wrong or whether you will recover. 
It's important to remain calm during this time.  If you are unable to do the STR test, seek medical help immediately. 
Recognising a Stroke: Smile, Talk, Raise Both Arms (STR)
There are varying effects of a stroke, from passing weakness or tingling in a limb to severe paralysis, coma or death. 
By asking the individual these three simple questions, you’ll be able to determine whether or not he or she is having a stroke. 
S - Ask the individual to Smile
T - Talk: ask the person to say a simple sentence 
R - Ask him or her to Raise both arms
If the person has trouble with any one of these tasks, call the ambulance and seek medical attention immediately. 
Potential Causes of a Stroke
There are various risk factors which contribute to a stroke, such as hereditary (family history) factors as well as lifestyle habits. While some risk factors, such as family history cannot be changed - others, such as the following risk factors, can be changed or managed:
  • High blood pressure
  • Atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat)
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Physical inactivity
  • Poor diet and excessive alcohol intake
  • Being overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Use of  illegal drugs such as cocaine and crystal methamphetamine (Tik)
What can I do to Prevent a Stroke?
Early detection is essential to help reduce the risk of a stroke. The following health tips can also save a life: 
  • Go regular check-ups
  • Eat healthy, balanced meals
  • Quit smoking
  • Increase your physical activity
  • Find ways to lower your stress levels  
Stroke survivors may benefit from rehabilitation centres and facilities, which may include the support of a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, dietician, speech therapist and social worker.
You can contact the following facilities to assist with rehabilitation:
In-patient Support:
(A patient who lives in hospital while receiving treatment)
  • Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre - Tel: 021 370 2346
Out-patient Support:
(A patient who receives treatment without staying overnight)
  • Groote Schuur Hospital - Tel: 021 404 6458
  • Tygerberg Hospital - Tel: 021 938 5454
For detailed information, you can visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation website, or e-mail
The content on this page was last updated on 13 October 2015