Important: A stroke or a TIA is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention. If you or someone with you experiences any of the FAST signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Page updated: April 3, 2020
Stroke Services BC and the health authority stroke programs are committed to supporting our patients and ensuring access to care as the situation evolves with COVID-19. To access the most up-to-date information on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and where to get help in British Columbia, go to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) website at covid-19.bccdc.ca
For additional updates and precautions for people living with stroke, please review the resources on the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada website.
Additional resources for people living with stroke + their caregivers:
Stroke Recovery Association of BC's virtual stroke recovery programming includes a number of online sessions, meetings and workshops so people experiencing stroke can maintain their connection with the community from home.
An aphasia friendly information sheet about COVID-19 has been developed by Tactus Therapy.
PHSA's Office of Virtual Health (OVH) and Digital Health Team have developed a Virtual Health toolkit for use during the COVID-19 pandemic. It features solutions and support for health care providers so they can continue to provide care to their patients while maintaining physical distancing.
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 transient ischemic attack (TIA) 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 formed in April 2011 as a program within the Provincial Health Services Authority. Its vision is to work towards fewer strokes, promote and support world-class stroke care, and ensure the best possible outcomes for stroke patients in BC.
Stroke Services BC's mandate is to provide leadership, coordination, communication and project support to implement the provincial stroke strategy, and to ensure ongoing quality improvement and change initiatives.
In partnership with the regional health authorities and physicians, Stroke Services BC endeavours to improve stroke care, identifying areas for targeted improvement. It provides leadership in evidence-based stroke care in BC which has been shown to significantly reduce death and disability, and secondary complications.
Stroke Services BC also:
Stroke Services BC is proud of the level of care provided to stroke patients in the province and vast improvements have been made to ensure all British Columbians have rapid access to the care they need, when they need it.
- Holds the provincial budget in support of change management and system redesign, and allocates resources to priorities.
- Monitors individual and system-wide performance.
- Leads several evaluation and improvement initiatives.
It is known that rapid access to care, including stroke unit care, can be the difference between life and death for many patients. Stroke unit care reduces the likelihood of death and disability by as much as 30 per cent - which is why BC now has designated stroke centres across the province.
Other improvements include:
- Transporting stroke patients to the most appropriate hospital, ensuring timely access to necessary care, thanks to a partnership with BC Ambulance/BC Emergency Health Services.
- Adding 75 new dedicated stroke beds since 2011.
- Conducting a comprehensive evaluation of rehabilitation practices for stroke by 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.
- Implementing 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.
Stroke Services BC continues to work with health authorities, physicians, nurses, health professionals, patients and families to improve all areas of stroke care, from specialized access to health worker education.
Through proactive planning and outreach, Stroke Services BC has formed a number of partnerships across the province to improve stroke care in BC. Partners include:
- BC Brain Injury Association
- BC Emergency Health Services (BC Ambulance & the BC Patient Transfer Network)
- BC health authorities: Fraser Health, First Nations Health Authority, Interior Health, Island Health, Northern Health, Vancouver Coastal Health.
- BC Ministry of Health
- BC Patient Safety Quality Council and Clinical Care Management Initiative
- Heart & Stroke Foundation
- Stroke Recovery Association of BC
In recent years, BC has seen significant improvements in stroke care and death rates from stroke are on the decline.
According to a national report released by the Heart & Stroke Foundation in 2014, the gains made 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 per cent 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.