A stroke is caused by the blood supply to part of the brain being cut off. This is due to a blood vessel bleeding or getting blocked. As a result, that part of the brain becomes damaged. The effects of stroke will vary depending on which part of the brain is damaged.
A stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, and urgent treatment is essential. The sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.
‘There are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK each year. That is around one stroke every five minutes. There are over 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK. Stroke is the fourth biggest killer in the in the UK. Fourth in England and Wales, and the third biggest killer in Scotland and Northern Ireland’. (Stroke Association. 2018) Two thirds of strokes occur in people over 65 years old.
All strokes are different. For some, the effects may be minimal and not last long. Whilst others can be left with more severe problems which result in them becoming dependent on other people. Sadly, approximately 12.5% die within 30 days of having a stroke.
Causes of a stroke:
The brain needs considerable amounts of oxygen and nutrients, carried to it in our blood to operate well. Restriction of this blood supply leads to brain cell death, this then leads to a stroke. There are two 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 A transient ischaemic attack or TIA is also known as a mini-stroke is the same as a stroke, except that the symptoms only last for a short amount of time, typically less than 24 hours. This is because the blockage that stops the blood getting to your brain is temporary. TIAs should be considered as an urgent warning to seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if symptoms resolve.
Some conditions increase the risk of having a stroke, including:
Medical treatment of stroke depends on the type of stroke, including which part of the brain was affected. Usual treatment is with medicines to prevent and dissolve blood clots, reduce blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels. On occasions, surgery may be required to treat brain swelling, remove blood clots, or reduce the risk of additional bleeding in cases of haemorrhagic strokes.
For some stroke survivors a lengthy period of stroke rehabilitation is needed before they can recover their pre-stroke level of independence. However, many never regain previous levels of independence and they need support and assistance to live with the stroke. Physiotherapy, occupational therapy (OT) and speech and language therapy (SLT) are the foundations of stroke rehabilitation. Stroke rehabilitation is often focused on functional tasks and patient’s goals.
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