A stroke is a disruption of blood supply to the brain – either through a blockage due to clot (ischemic), or bleeding (hemorrhagic).
The amount of brain affected by the stroke and the type of symptoms a person would experience depends on where the blockage or bleed occurs. In both cases, if the blood supply is not restored quickly, the affected part of the brain dies, causing disability or death.
A TIA or Transient Ischemic Attack can be considered a “mini-stroke”, when blood flow to the brain stops for a short period of time. A TIA is an important sign of a problem with blood flow to the brain and should be treated as an emergency.
Stroke Services BC (SSBC) was formed in April 2011 as a program within the Provincial Health Services Authority. Our mandate is to provide leadership, coordination, communication and project support to implement the provincial stroke strategy.
Stroke Services BC has worked to improve stroke care since 2011, identifying areas for targeted improvement.
We’ve made numerous improvements in other areas, including:
Transporting stroke patients to the most appropriate hospital, ensuring timely access to the necessary care, thanks to a partnership with BC Ambulance/Emergency Health Services.
Adding 75 new dedicated stroke beds since 2011.
A comprehensive evaluation of rehabilitation practices for stroke, following 230 patients across the province for 60 days to help identify gaps in rehab care. Health authorities are working to address those gaps and ensure harmonized rehabilitation care for patients regardless of where they are rehabilitated.
Implemented a web-based learning module for all health authorities and BC Ambulance — approximately 1,500 individuals have completed or are enrolled in the module to date, which enhances expertise in stroke care, enabling them to better care for their patients.
Through proactive planning and outreach, Stroke Services BC has created a number of partnerships across the province to improve stroke care across BC, including:
BC Brain Injury Association
BC Emergency Health Services (BC Ambulance and the BC Patient Transfer Network)
BC health authorities which include Vancouver Coastal Health, Island Health, Interior Health, Northern Health, Fraser Health and First Nations Health Authority.
BC Ministry of Health
BC Patient Safety Quality Council and Clinical Care Management Initiative
Heart and Stroke Foundation
Stroke Recovery Association of BC
Over the past number of years, we’ve made significant improvements in the area of stroke: care has improved and death rates from stroke are on the decline.
According to a national report released by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the gains we’ve seen in stroke treatment and care will soon be challenged by an aging population, more stroke patients with more complex needs and an increase in the number of younger people having strokes.
There are an estimated 50,000 strokes in Canada every year, or one every 10 minutes, and 315,000 Canadians are living with its effects. Stroke currently costs the Canadian economy $3.6 billion a year in physician services, hospital costs, lost wages and decreased productivity.
Up to 80% of strokes are preventable through primary and secondary prevention efforts such as maintaining an active, healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and no smoking.