Stroke Awareness - Spotlight on. Photo is to highlight long term care. Photo by Dominik Lange on Unsplash

In this edition we focus the Spotlight On … Strokes

Make May Purple for Stroke, this is an annual event to increase awareness of strokes. Did you know a stroke strikes every five minutes in the UK and one in four strokes happen to people of working age, with the over 55’s being more at risk?

A stroke is a brain attack. It happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, killing brain cells.

Damage to the brain can affect how the body works. The effects can depend on where in the brain the stoke takes place and what damage has been done. Mobility effects the opposite side of the body to where the stroke has occurred.

There are three different types of strokes.

  • Ischemic stroke.
  • Transient ischemic attack. (TIA) or mini-stroke.
  • Haemorrhagic stroke.

The most common strokes are ischaemic strokes. These are caused by a blockage cutting off the blood supply to the brain. This type of stroke accounts for around 85% of all strokes. Blockages are caused by a blood clot forming in an artery leading to the brain or within one small vessel deep inside the brain. Blockages in the brain can also be caused by a clot moving through the blood stream from another part of the body. Other causes can be atherosclerosis, small vessel damage, atrial fibrillation or arterial dissection.

The haemorrhagic strokes are caused by bleeding in or around the brain. Although not as common as ischaemic strokes, they can be more serious. This type of stroke can happen when an artery inside your brain bursts, causing a bleed or bleeding at the surface of your brain. Some causes of bleeding in and around the brain are high blood pressure, anticoagulant medication, taking illegal drugs, like cocaine, an aneurysm and cerebral amyloid angiopathy.

TIA’s, also know as a mini-strokes, are caused by a blockage that stops the blood getting to your brain temporarily. The blockage is normally a blood clot and the blood supply will return to normal by either the blockage dissolving or moving on it’s own.

Signs of a stroke

FACE: Can the person smile? Has their face fallen on one side?
ARMS: Can the person raise both arms above the head?
SPEECH: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
TIME: to call 999, seek medical help immediately if you suspect a stroke.

Treatment

A CT or MRI scan, soon after admittance to hospital, will take place so the appropriate treatment can
start straight away. The quicker the stroke is diagnosed and treated, the better the recovery can be.

Recovery

Dependent on the seriousness of the stroke will depend on the length of stay in hospital. After this time
a stay in a rehabilitation ward may be necessary, this is to enable a specialist team to provide
intensive therapy to learn how to regain the skills lost through the stroke.

Lasting Effects

Complete change in personality can be an after effect of a stroke. A lot of strokes effects the patients
swallowing abilities. Others include communication difficulties, including reading, writing and speaking.
Tiredness and fatigue as well as pains, headaches and balance issues.

Making Simple Changes

By making some simple changes and looking after yourself better can reduce the risk of having a stroke:

  • Healthy Eating
  • Cutting back on amount of alcohol consumed
  • Being more active
  • Reducing stresses
  • Controlling medical conditions like diabetes
  • Quitting smoking
  • Stop using illegal drugs

Additional information

Stroke Association

NHS

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