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  • Sophie Fairhurst

What is stroke, and what are contributing factors to it?


Stroke is a brain attack that cuts off blood supply to part of the brain, killing affected brain cells. This means that the body can be affected, and so can how you think and feel.


Some key statistics:

• Stroke occurs every five minutes

• 100,000 people have strokes each year

• There are 1.3 million stroke survivors in the UK

• Stroke accounts for roughly 75% of cerebrovascular diseases related deaths


Types of stroke:

• Ischaemic

o The most common type of stroke. Caused by a blockage cutting off blood supply to the brain.

• Haemorrhagic

o Caused by bleeding in or around the brain.

• Transient Ischaemic attack (TIA)

o Otherwise known as a mini-stroke; it is the same as a stroke, but the symptoms last for a short amount of time. This is because the blockage of blood to the brain is only temporary.

Main risk factors:

Your age

As part of the ageing process, arteries become naturally narrowed and are more likely to become clogged with fatty material – atherosclerosis.

Medical conditions

Certain medical conditions can affect your risk of stroke, such as:

• High blood pressure

o The biggest risk factor for stroke.

• Diabetes

o Can make your arteries more likely to become clogged up.

• High Cholesterol

o Can make your arteries more likely to become clogged up.

• Atrial fibrillation

o Can lead to a clot in your heart, causing a stroke.


Lifestyle

Smoking, an excess of alcohol, and being overweight or unhealthy can lead to damage in your blood vessels. This increases blood pressure and make your blood more likely to clot, increasing your risk of a stroke.


Family history

If a close relative of yours has had a stroke, you are likely to be of higher risk. Speak with your GP if you have close family relatives who have had a stroke or heart attack, as some kinds of high cholesterol can run in families.

Effects of stroke

There are any effects of stroke, such as physical disabilities, communication impairments, paralysis, and death.

Recovery

As all strokes are different, recovery is different and dependable on the severity of the stroke. For some people, the effects can be minor, and may not last long, while others may experience a severe stroke and therefore be left with more serious problems.

Unfortunately, some strokes can be very serious and lead to such as things as coma or sudden death.

It is very important to know how to spot the symptoms in order to get medical attention as quickly as possible. If treatment is received faster, then your chance of recovery will also increase.


Knowing the symptoms: FAST

Recognising the symptoms for stroke follow the FAST procedure

Face

o Can they smile? Has part of their face drooped?

Arm

o Can they lift their arms?

Speech

o Can they speak clearly or understand what you are saying?

Time

o Time to call 999 if any of these signs indicate a stroke has occurred.

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