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About stroke and stroke prevention

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About Stroke and Stroke Prevention – Live Great – Great Eastern Life

Learn all about stroke, symptoms of stroke and stroke prevention

What is a stroke?
Imagine a busy expressway where the traffic is smooth and all the cars are carrying people, messages, resources and other essentials into a teeming city. If one car were to crash suddenly, causing a massive pileup, this would not only slow down traffic, but disrupt the flow of cars going into and out of the city.

In a stroke, the rupture of a blood vessel or capillary in the brain has the same effect. This clot or bleed in the brain decreases the supply of blood to the brain cells and damages them and affecting a part of the body. Because the brain stem controls all the body's functions such as movement, breathing, blood pressure, heartbeat, vision, hearing, speech and swallowing, damage in any one of these 'control centres' means that part of the body is affected. Damage to the 'left-arm control centre' of the brain means the right arm will be affected and any damage to the 'right-eye control centre' of the brain means the vision in the left eye may be lost.

The severity of impairment depends on the severity of the stroke - the length of time the part of the brain is deprived of oxygen.

There are two kinds of stroke:

  • Ischemic stroke: Caused by a blockage or clot in the blood vessels that supply blood to brain. About 60 per cent of strokes are caused by clots.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke: Caused by a sudden rupture of a capillary in the brain that disrupts the blood flow to the brain. The leak of blood into the brain can put pressure on parts of the brain while depriving other areas of oxygen-rich blood. Risk factors include: hypertension, uncontrolled diabetes or a weakening of the blood vessel.

What are the warning signs of a stroke?
These are some common signs that a stroke has occurred:

  • A sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm and leg, usually on one side of the body
  • Loss of speech
  • Trouble talking or understanding speech
  • Dimness or loss of vision, usually in one eye
  • Unexplained dizziness, weakness or a sudden fall

What are the risk factors for a stroke?
A stroke is linked to a number of chronic diseases. These conditions increase the risk of getting a stroke:

  • Poorly controlled blood sugar in diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Alcoholism and excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney failure

What are the treatments for a stroke?
Medical science has advanced to vastly improve the survival and recovery rate for those who suffer a stroke. Speedy medical attention, medication and physical therapy means a good many people can enjoy a good quality of life post-stroke.

One of the best indicators of recovery and survival is the speed in which medical attention is sought. This is the 'golden hour' in which doctors can minimise the damage and protect the brain. A regime of anti-coagulants or blood thinners are commonly given to help dissolve blood clots and prevent future strokes, while other drugs are used to stabilise blood pressure and blood flow.

A physiotherapy regime is often helpful in helping a person to regain strength and mobility of the affected limb or to overcome any physical limitations caused by the stroke.

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