Stroke Awareness Month – May 2024

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A stroke is a severe, life-threatening medical event triggered by the interruption of blood flow to a part of the brain.

Disruption of this vital supply can have devastating consequences, impacting bodily functions, cognition and emotions. The severity of a stroke’s effects depends on the location and size of the affected area. Recognising the signs and seeking immediate medical attention is crucial, as timely intervention can minimise damage.

Statistics of Stroke

  • a stroke occurs every five minutes
  • approximately 100,000 people experience strokes each year
  • there are 1.3 million stroke survivors in the UK.

(sourced from the Stroke Association)

Recognising Stroke symptoms

The acronym FAST encapsulates the primary indicators of a stroke:

  • Face – Drooping on one side, inability to smile, or drooping of the mouth or eye
  • Arms – Inability to lift both arms due to weakness or numbness in one arm
  • Speech – Slurred or garbled speech, inability to communicate, or difficulty understanding speech
  • Time – Dial 999 immediately upon recognising any of these symptoms.

Understanding the causes of a Stroke

The brain, like all organs, requires a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients delivered through the bloodstream. Interruptions in this supply lead to the death of brain cells, potentially resulting in brain injury, disability or fatality.

Ischaemic strokes, caused by blood clots obstructing blood flow, account for 85% of cases, while haemorrhagic strokes stem from ruptured blood vessels supplying the brain.

Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), or mini-strokes, are temporary interruptions in blood supply, often serving as precursors to more severe strokes.

Risk factors

Several conditions increase the likelihood of strokes, including:

  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • High Cholesterol
  • Irregular Heartbeats (Atrial Fibrillation)
  • Diabetes.

How to reduce the risk of a Stroke

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Adopt a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Limit intake of saturated fats, salt and added sugars.

  1. Manage Chronic Conditions: Regular check-ups, medication adherence, and lifestyle adjustments are essential in controlling conditions such as hypertension, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, and diabetes.
  2. Quit Smoking: Smoking significantly increases stroke risk; smokers are around three times more likely to have a stroke than non-smokers.
  3. Limit Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol intake raises blood pressure and contributes to stroke risk.
  4. Stay Active: Regular physical activity aids in artery health, heart function, blood pressure regulation, sugar stabilisation and cholesterol reduction.

By implementing these recommendations, individuals can proactively reduce their stroke risk and lead healthier lives.

During Stroke Awareness Month, let’s prioritise education, vigilance, and preventive actions to combat this life-threatening condition.

Useful resources for more information about Strokes

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