• 9000 New Zealanders have a stroke per year
  • Strokes kill 2000 New Zealanders per year
  • 25% of stroke victims are under 65

Strokes are broadly divided into two categories: strokes caused by bleeding inside the brain called “haemorrhagic strokes”, and “ischaemic strokes” that occur when blood flow is restricted to one or more parts of the brain, stopping the flow of oxygen to that area of the brain and causing brain cells to die off.

Though commonly associated with elderly patients, stroke can occur at any age with one quarter of all stroke patients in New Zealand being aged under 65.

Over 9000 New Zealanders have a stroke each year, 2000 of whom die, making stroke the second largest cause of death in New Zealand and the largest cause of adult disability. If you believe you, or someone close to you, has had a stroke, call 111 immediately. Time is extremely precious when treating stroke, and minutes could save someone from major disability or even death.

Signs and Symptoms:

Learn to recognise the signs of stroke with the BE FAST acronym.

Balance: A sudden loss of balance.

Eyes: Sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes.


Face: Drooping on one side of the face.

Arm: Sudden weakness in one arm.

Speech: Loss or slurring of speech

Take Action: If any of these symptoms occur, call 111 immediately.

Causes and Treatment:

The number one risk factor for stroke is ageing, although stroke can occur at any age and several lifestyle factors increase risk. Hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes are associated with an increased risk of stroke. Lifestyle factors associated with stroke include obesity, smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise and drinking too much alcohol.

Treatment for ischaemic stroke (which accounts for 87% of all strokes) has traditionally been the use of clot busting drugs like Alteplase. However a new clot retrieval process pioneered in New Zealand by the Neurological Foundation Chair of Clinical Neurology Alan Barber is proving extraordinarily effective. The process, called Endovascular Clot Retrieval, was developed at Auckland City Hospital by Professor Barber and his team. A chicken wire like device is fed up through a patient’s femoral artery, all the way up to the brain where it then encapsulates the offending blood clot. Once the device has secured the clot, it is then drawn back out through the body, removing the clot with it and restoring blood flow to the brain.

Surgeons are on target to perform over 200 clot retrievals this year alone at Auckland City Hospital, allowing patients to live independently and saving the lives of real New Zealanders. Professor Barber’s research is funded by the Neurological Foundation and in 2018 we committed to continue funding this research for at least the next five years. Your donations help us to continue this vital role, bridging the gap between research and clinical practice. Please give generously. 

Support Organisations:

Stroke Foundation New Zealand -

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