A stroke is a condition that affects your brain. Globally, more than 15 million people are affected by stroke each year and approximately 6 million will die as a result. 150,000 people in the UK are affected each year and the results can be devastating for the individual and their families.
Your brain needs a good supply of oxygen to function and it gets this via our blood supply. A stroke happens when the blood supply is cut off to part of the brain, causing some of its cells to die. Sometimes this is caused by blood clots, in the same way that heart attacks occur or sometimes it happens when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.
Strokes can occur at any time, to anyone, at any age. A stroke is to the brain what a heart attack is to the heart. One could view stroke as a brain atttack.
Most people will make some recovery, although the damage caused can be severe or indeed fatal.
Stroke is a medical emergency and the person needs urgent medical care to reduce the clot or stop the bleeding.
Symptoms can vary from person to person, depending upon which area of the brain has been affected but can include
- weakness, numbness or paralysis down one side of the body and face
- slurred speech, difficulty finding words or unable to speak at all
- loss of vision or blurred vision
The FAST test is a simple way to test whether someone might be experiencing a stroke:
F – Face – does their face look lopsided, particularly when they smile?
A – Arms – can they hold both arms out steadily in front of them and hold them in that position?
S – Speech – is their speech slurred, do they find it difficult to find words or able to say any words at all?
T – Time – Time is crucial is a stroke and if the person has any one of these symptoms, they may be having a stroke, in which case you need to act FAST and dial 999
Whilst waiting for the emergency services to respond, make the patient comfortable, reassure them and keep a close eye on them. Should they become unconscious, lay them in the recovery position.
World Stroke Day is always on 29th October
For more information visit www.stroke.org.uk