Harlow Stroke Support Group
Charity Number 1099071
GPCA, Abercrombie Way, Harlow, Essex. CM18 6YJ.
Tel: 01279 308313
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For your brain to function, it needs a constant blood supply, which provides vital nutrients and oxygen to the brain cells.
A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off and brain cells are damaged or die.
Strokes are sudden and have an immediate effect.
Ischaemic strokes happen when something blocks an artery that carries blood to the brain.
There are several possible causes:
•A blood clot forms in a main artery to the brain
•A blood clot, air bubble or fat globule forms in a blood vessel and is carried to the brain
•There is a blockage in the tiny blood vessels deep inside the brain
Haemorrhagic strokes happen when a blood vessel bursts and bleeds into the brain (a haemorrhage).
The haemorrhage may be due to:
•A vessel bursting within the brain itself, or
•A blood vessel on the surface of the brain bleeding into the area between the brain and the skull.
Strokes affect people in different ways, depending on the part of the brain that is affected, how widespread the damage is and how healthy the person was before the stroke.
A stroke is always a medical emergency It is important to be able to recognise the symptoms of a stroke and to get help immediately.
Symptoms of a stroke?
You can recognise a stroke using the FAST test:
FACIAL weakness: Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
ARM weakness: Can the person raise both arms and keep them there?
SPEECH problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
TIME to call 999.
If a person fails any one of these tests, get help immediately by dialling 999. Inform the 999 operator that you suspect somebody may have had a stroke. Tell them which elements of the FAST test could not be completed and if you know, when these symptoms began.
A speedy response can help reduce the damage to a person's brain and improve their chances of a full recovery.
A delay in getting help can result in long-term disabilities or even death.
Don't ignore temporary symptoms
If symptoms disappear within 24 hours, the person may have had a Transient ischaemic attack (TIA), which is sometimes called a mini-stroke.
A TIA is still a medical emergency, because it can lead to a major stroke.
Many stroke survivors are likely to see a significant improvement of their symptoms during their stay in hospital. Some patients may be discharged from an acute hospital setting and transferred to a rehabilitation unit. This will enable them to receive intensive rehabilitation from a range of professionals including speech, physio and occupational therapy.
There is no set recovery/rehabilitation timescale following a stroke. Your long term rehabilitation will very much depend upon the type and severity of your stroke.
Common problems after stroke:
There are a range of longer-term problems that a stroke survivor may continue to face after they have left hospital. These include:
Stroke affects everybody differently, and it is impossible to say how much of a recovery will be made.
Some stroke survivors experience the most dramatic recovery during their stay in hospital. Others might continue to improve over a longer time, sometimes over a number of years.
Rehabilitation should not only be deemed as successful if a person has returned to their "pre- stroke" functionality. A successful rehabilitation, might enable a stroke survivor to walk using a stick as opposed to a walking frame or using a wheelchair.
Rehabilitation might also mean helping you to acquire new skills or relearn old ones as well as, helping you adapt to the limitations caused by your stroke. Alternatively, it might mean helping you find social, emotional and practical support
.Who is at risk?
Anyone can have a stroke
Every year, around 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke.
That's one person every five minutes! Stroke is the single biggest cause of serious disability and the third most common cause of death in the UK.
Although most people who have a stroke are over 65, around a quarter of strokes happen to people who are younger. It is estimated that over 20,000 people under 45 have a stroke every year.
Risk Factors for Stroke
There are a range of Risk Factors for Stroke, some risk can be reduced by lifestyle changes. However, there are others over which we have no control.
The information in this section applies whether you want to decrease your chances of having your first stroke or if you have already had a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA) and want to reduce your chances of having another.
Risks factors you cannot control
Making changes to your lifestyle to make it healthier can reduce your risk of having a stroke. But there are some risk factors that you cannot change.
More men under 75 have strokes than women. But middle-aged women are more likely to have a stroke than men in the same age group.
Women are one and a half times more likely to die following a stroke.
Most people who have strokes are aged over 55, and the risk increases as you get older.
It is not yet understood why, people of South Asian, African or African-Caribbean origin are twice as likely to have a stroke than the rest of the population. They are also more likely to have their first stroke at a younger age.
None of these factors mean that you will necessarily have a stroke, but it is useful to be aware if you are at increased risk.
Risk Factors for Stroke that You can control
You are twice as likely to have a stroke if you smoke. Smoking causes your arteries to fur up and makes a blood clot more likely. Stopping smoking is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of stroke.
Healthy eating helps keep your heart and bloodstream in good form.
Eating well and exercising also help you to lose weight
Tips for a healthy diet
Tips for getting regular exercise:
Always check with your GP before taking up exercises.
Simple checks at your local GP practice can help reduce your risk of stroke.
Get your blood pressure checked regularly
High blood pressure can increase the risk of stroke.
People with high blood pressure may not have any symptoms, so it is important to check your blood pressure regularly.
Your doctor can prescribe medication to help with conditions that increase the risk of stroke, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and irregular heartbeat.
Check to see if you have Atrial Fibrillation:
Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is a type of irregular heartbeat.
It affects around 750,000 people in the UK and means you could be more likely to suffer a stroke
The following could be a sign that you have AF:
A doctor or nurse will need to confirm a diagnosis of AF.