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Stroke Prevention

A stroke is a serious life-threatening medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is 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.

If you suspect that you or someone else is having a stroke, phone 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.

Symptoms of a stroke

The main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word F.A.S.T.:
•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.

The best way to help prevent a stroke is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol.

These lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of problems like:
•arteries becoming clogged with fatty substances (atherosclerosis)
•high blood pressure
•high cholesterol levels

Causes of a stroke

Like all organs, the brain needs the oxygen and nutrients provided by blood to function properly.

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

There’s also a related condition known as a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), where the blood supply to the brain is temporarily interrupted.

This causes what’s known as a mini-stroke. It can last from just a few minutes or, alternatively, persist up to 24 hours.

TIAs should be treated urgently, as they’re often a warning sign you’re at risk of having a full stroke in the near future.

Seek medical advice as soon as possible, even if your symptoms resolve.

Certain conditions increase the risk of having a stroke, including:
•high blood pressure (hypertension)
•high cholesterol
•atrial fibrillation
•diabetes