BY: Mpofu Sthandile.

Karl Bremer Hospital has achieved Gold Status in the 2023 World Stroke Organisation (WSO) Angels Awards. The hospital is the first in the Western Cape to receive Gold Status.

The award comes ahead of World Hypertension Day, observed annually on 17 May. Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the major global causes of disease and death, and it can lead to stroke and heart disease, among other complications.

Karl Bremer Hospital’s participation in the Angels Initiative bolsters efforts by the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness to enhance patients’ care and health outcomes in the province.

The department is proud of Karl Bremer Hospital’s endeavours to improve stroke care and through collaboration with the globally run Angels Initiative. The entire Stroke Team must be commended for their continued hard work to bring the very best care to residents.  


The Angels Initiative is a global community of stroke centres and stroke ready hospitals, working to increase the quality of treatment for every stroke patient.

The organisation recognises high performing hospitals, like Karl Bremer Hospital, that have consistently recorded and provided data that will aid research and help identify points of improvement in the treatment of stroke patients.

Doctor De Vries Basson, Karl Bremer Hospital’s Head of Internal Medicine, said the hospital joined the Angels initiative to improve stroke care and empower staff. The hospital has been recognised for its contributions in the first quarter of 2023.

“I think that this is a very important initiative. The Angels Initiative was launched to support hospitals and its aim is to get more healthcare facilities stroke ready. This means that we can provide improved stroke care to all who visit Karl Bremer Hospital.”

Renathe van der Merwe, Angels Senior Coordinator for South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, congratulated the hospital on its contribution to improving stroke care. “On behalf of the Angels Initiative, I would like to send our sincere words of congratulations to the Karl Bremer Stroke Team, on achieving a WSO Angels Gold Award for quarter one of 2023!

For Karl Bremer to be the first hospital in the Western Cape is excellent and a job very well done!  Your contribution into the quality monitoring programme is highly appreciated and valued and considered as a significant step for stroke care improvement in South Africa.”

Dr Basson hopes that hospitals and healthcare facilities will join the initiative. “We need more and more hospitals in South Africa to not just join Angels, but also record your stroke data. Recording your stroke care data helps you to monitor your own progress of your stroke unit or stroke team. It also helps you to compare your hospital’s stroke care and to learn from hospitals across the country and the world.”

The Angels Initiative provides training to hospitals as well as Emergency Medical Services, with the aim to improve stroke patients’ health outcomes. Dr Basson adds: “They have also supported us with workshops, roadshows, information packs and stroke ready packs for our hospital. In other hospitals, the organisation has assisted with setting up a stroke unit or stroke team.”

Dr Basson has thanked his stroke care team for their efforts. “I am grateful for this award as I work with a great stroke team at Karl Bremer Hospital. Our team works extremely hard to make sure we get the best outcomes for all of our stroke patients. From our doctors and nurses to our rehabilitation staff and social workers, they really go the extra mile to provide the best post-acute care and rehab for our patients. It fills me with joy knowing that our stroke team’s efforts are making a difference. We know that prevention and stroke care awareness is important. We cannot sleep on this, we must act every day to ensure we provide the best treatment to our patients.”


Dr Basson is passionate about stroke awareness and encourages people to learn more about hypertension (high blood pressure). Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to complications such as disability, a heart attack or stroke.

“Hypertension is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, renal complications, among other things. Hypertension is one of our “silent killers” and most patients do not know what their daily blood pressure patterns are or that they actually have hypertension,” says Dr Basson.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is when the pressure in your blood vessels is too high (140/90 mmHg or higher). It is common but can be serious if not treated.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), an estimated 1.28 billion adults aged 30–79 years worldwide have hypertension, while about 46% of adults with hypertension are unaware that they have the condition.


People with high blood pressure/hypertension may not feel symptoms. The only way to know is to get your blood pressure checked when you visit your local GP or clinic.

 WHO has listed the following risk factors for high blood pressure:

  • genetics,
  • older age,
  • being overweight or obese,
  • not being physically active,
  • high-salt diet and,
  • drinking too much alcohol.

Lifestyle changes like eating a healthier diet, quitting tobacco and being more active can help lower blood pressure. However, some people may still need to take medicines.


Many people who have hypertension may not experience any symptoms. Very high blood pressures can cause headaches, blurred vision, chest pain and other symptoms.

According to WHO, people with very high blood pressure can experience symptoms including:

  • severe headaches
  • chest pain
  • dizziness
  • difficulty breathing
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • blurred vision or other vision changes
  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • buzzing in the ears
  • nosebleeds
  • abnormal heart rhythm

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and a high blood pressure, seek care immediately.


Good health allows you to do more of what you love every day. Dr Basson shares three tips to control high blood pressure and keep healthy.

1. Know your numbers:

“It is important that you know your blood pressure and your daily patterns. Speak to a healthcare worker at your clinic if you need support. It is also important that you take your medication as advised by your doctor or pharmacist. Take your medication even if you feel better. You cannot stop hypertension by taking your medication on one day only, you need to follow the advice provided by your doctor or nurse.”

2. Diet and exercise:

“Take note of your diet and exercise regularly. Reduce the amount of salt in your diet. By monitoring your diet and exercising (exercise 30-45min, 3-4 times per week (150min/week), you can reduce your blood pressure and reduce your chances of developing other diseases like Diabetes Mellitus.”

3. Build healthy habits: 

“Address other confounding factors that could make your hypertension worse – like smoking, heaving alcohol consumption, hypercholesterolemia, cardiac dysrhythmias like atrial fibrillation; HIV and sleep apnea.”


The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa describes High blood pressure, or hypertension, as one of the most serious risk factors for death from heart diseases and strokes, responsible for 13% of all deaths globally. In South Africa more than 1 in 3 adults live with high blood pressure and it is responsible for 1 in every 2 strokes and 2 in every 5 heart attacks.

Knowing the signs of a stroke can save your life and improve your health outcomes. The Heart and Stroke Foundation shares the following common signs and symptoms of stroke, which include sudden weakness or numbness in the face, sudden loss of speech, sudden confusion, sudden loss of vision, sudden severe headache and sudden dizziness.

The acronym to remember is FAST. F is face (weakness involving half of the face); A is arm (is there any drift in the arms when asked to raise your arm); S is speech (does the person’s speech sound slurred or unclear) and T is to take note of the time. Take the person to a hospital immediately or call an ambulance and say that your loved one is having a stroke. It’s important to think and act fast. The sooner you get to the emergency unit, the better the outcomes will be.


If you suspect that your blood pressure is high or uncontrolled, please visit your nearest clinic for support. The only way to detect hypertension is to have a health professional measure blood pressure. The process of having your blood pressure checked is quick and painless.

While you can measure your own blood pressure by using an automated device, a clinic visit is important to check your risk and overall health. Your local nurse or doctor can also refer you to a dietician to assist with creating a healthy meal plan.

Visit your local clinic today for support.


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