This is a quick reference guide to:
- recognising stroke, and
- understanding why stroke is a serious medical event.
However, the great news is that 80% of strokes are preventable!
Reduce your risk of stroke by following the suggestions outlined in the box below.
Stroke is a serious health issue and a medical emergency
BUT DO YOU KNOW THAT 80% OF STROKES CAN BE PREVENTED?
You can reduce your risk of stroke by:
- having regular blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol tests, to check whether your levels are normal.
- If they are high your doctor or nurse may suggest ways of reducing them
- having regular checks on the health of your heart. If it is abnormal your doctor may suggest treatment
- stopping smoking.
WHY NOT START TODAY?
Click on the topics below to find out more.
- What causes stroke?
- How to recognise stroke and transient ischemic attack
- What to do if stroke happens
- Why is stroke a major health issue?
- Risk factors for stroke
What causes stroke?
Stroke is caused by a blockage of blood supply to, or a bleed within, the brain.
How to recognise stroke and transient ischemic attack
- Many people are not aware of the symptoms of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) and often do not go to hospital if either of these events happen.
- Symptoms of stroke are sudden. Common ones include:
- numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body
- vision problems
- loss of coordination
- confusion or trouble speaking or understanding
- severe headache.
- Symptoms of a TIA are similar to stroke, but last only minutes or hours. Only a doctor can tell the difference between a TIA and a stroke. Do not wait to see if it goes away. If someone has the symptoms, phone for emergency medical help immediately.
What to do if stroke happens
- Stroke is a medical emergency. If someone has a stroke, phone for emergency medical assistance urgently.
- Even though the symptoms of a TIA are short-lasting and may not seem severe, a TIA is a medical emergency. Seek medical assistance urgently. Do not wait to see if ‘it goes away’.
Why is stroke a major health issue?
- Around 15 million people worldwide suffer from stroke every year
- About a quarter of strokes happen in people aged under 65 years
- Stroke leaves around a third of its victims permanently disabled
- Recurrent stroke is common in stroke survivors and around a quarter of people who recover from their first stroke will have another one within 5 years. Generally, a doctor will assess any underlying stroke risk factors and advise how these can be managed to reduce the risk of another stroke
Risk factors for stroke
- The main cause of stroke is high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases your risk of stroke by 4-6 times
- Several factors have been directly linked to an increased risk of stroke, including those listed below
Direct risk factor for stroke
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Excess alcohol intake
- High blood cholesterol
Which direct stroke risk factors are in your life? Banish them!
- National Stroke Association. Women and stroke
- The Stroke Association. Preventing a stroke
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Questions and Answers About Stroke
- The Stroke Association. Leaflet: What is a stroke?
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. NINDS Transient Ischemic Attack Information Page
- World Health Organization 2004. Global Burden of Stroke. Part three: the burden. The Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stroke Facts and Statistics
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. NINDS Stroke Information Page
- American Heart Association. Heart and Stroke Facts booklet