Saskatchewan woman hoping her story raises awareness about strokes
Gail Jacobs and her husband Vern are getting ready to head east with their camper to spend some quality time together after Gail suffered a mini-stroke known as a TIA about two years ago.
“I had this high blood pressure, this tingling and it just felt like a whole bunch of busy little ants running through my brain and through the left side of my body,” Gail said.
Because of her family history, she was well aware of the warning signs, having lost her sister to a stroke in 2012.
But she’s not the only one; according to the 2018 Heart & Stroke report, women are disproportionately affected.
READ MORE: New report from Heart & Stroke
Of all the deaths due to strokes, 59 per cent are women and 41 per cent are men. South Asian women, women of African descent and Indigenous women are at an even higher risk.
“Women tend to have a stroke later in life,” Stroke Services clinical nurse, Ruth Whelan said. “They’re also at higher risk during pregnancy and [in] menopausal women the risk of stroke goes up based on hormonal changes and things like that.”
But surprisingly, 70 per cent of women don’t know any of the main risk factors.
“The number one risk factor is high blood pressure. Diabetes is a big risk factor, lifestyle choices like smoking are a huge risk factor and then things like high cholesterol and this heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation,” Whelan explained.
While Gail credits early intervention for her recovery, she also credits the acute stroke pathway, a program she helped develop. It gives patients a standardized level of care and provides treatment sooner.
“The acute stroke pathway was created in January of 2017, that made stroke care demand it didn’t matter if it was TIA, acute stroke, hemorrhagic, they’re all treated accordingly,” Gail said.
“It’s really made the treatment of stroke consistent across the province,” Whelan said.
Today Gail is active in helping to raise money and awareness for the causing, hoping her story helps save lives.
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