Cardiovascular Illnesses: Stroke
A stroke is a serious life-threatening medical condition caused by the blood supply to part of the brain being cut off. Strokes are a medical emergency and urgent treatment is essential. The sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.
Symptoms of a stroke
The main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word FAST:
- Face – the face may have dropped on 1 side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
- Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in 1 arm.
- Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.
- Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
Causes of a stroke
Like all organs, the brain needs oxygen and nutrients provided by blood to properly function. If the supply of blood is restricted or stopped, brain cells begin to die. This can lead to brain injury, disability and possibly death.
There are 2 main causes of strokes:
- ischaemic – where the blood supply is stopped because of a blood clot, accounting for 85% of all cases
- haemorrhagic – where a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts
If you suspect that you or someone else is having a stroke, phone 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.
Certain conditions increase the risk of having a stroke, including:
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- high cholesterol
- irregular heart beats (atrial fibrillation)
We provide the NHS Health Checks which checks for all of the above. Make sure to book an appointment with us when we are back up and running to get these checked out.
Strokes are usually treated with medication. This includes medicines to prevent and dissolve blood clots, reduce blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels. People who survive a stroke are often left with long-term problems caused by injury to their brain.
Preventing a stroke
You can significantly reduce your risk of having a stroke by:
- eating a healthy diet
- taking regular exercise
- following the recommended guidelines on alcohol intake (not drinking more than 14 units a week)
- not smoking
If you have a condition that increases your risk of a stroke, it’s important to manage it effectively.