Stroke 101: Everything You Need To Know

August 3, 2021


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Much of the awareness that is raised around human health these days focuses primarily on the signs and symptoms of cancer - and with good reason, given the harm that that condition can cause. However, for some people there may be more sense in a closer focus on the signs and symptoms of a stroke, and how best to avoid one. If you’re in a risk group for a stroke, then it’s certainly worth being aware of all the signs to look out for. Let’s look at the details…

What are the risk groups for a stroke?

Anyone can have a stroke, so being outside the risk groups does not mean you’re 100% in the clear. You are particularly at risk, however, if you suffer from high blood pressure or diabetes, if your cholesterol is high or you experience atrial fibrillations. Your risk is multiplied by certain lifestyle factors such as smoking, heavy drinking, obesity and an unhealthy diet.

What is a stroke, exactly?

The term “stroke” is a broad term that refers to a range of different attacks in which the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. In an ischemic attack, the blood is cut off by a blockage, while in a haemorrhagic attack, bleeding in or around the brain disrupts the timely flow of blood to the parts that need it. A transient ischemic attack, often called a “mini-stroke”, happens when a blockage temporarily prevents the blood flow, and the symptoms are short-lived.

How can I tell if I am in danger?

Sometimes, a stroke will occur without warning - or at least without apparent warning. The main ways it makes itself known are when any of the following occur suddenly:

  • Numbness or weakness localized on one side

  • Severe headache with no obvious cause

  • Difficulty in seeing out of one or both eyes

  • While walking, balance is affected or ability to move is impaired

  • Dizziness

  • Difficulty in communicating clearly

These may occur very soon before a stroke occurs, so if you have any concern, it is essential to raise the alarm promptly. Survival and better outcomes from a stroke are vastly more likely the sooner medical help is received.

What are the chances of recovery from a stroke?

Around one in ten people who have a stroke recover fully with no ill-effects, while another 25% suffer minor impairments. 40% experience after-effects that are moderate to severe, although developments such as medical exoskeletons mean that people who suffered worse effects can learn to walk again and have a more extensive recovery. As highlighted above, the speed with which you are seen and treated will have a pronounced impact on your chances of recovery.

What are the after-effects of a stroke?

Depending on the severity and the speed of treatment, the after-effects can be relatively mild or life-changing. For some people, the total loss of ability to walk or talk is a definitive effect, while you may also experience pronounced effects on cognitive health. In truth, each stroke has its own impacts; the chances of full recovery will have a lot to do with how long parts of the brain were starved of blood and therefore oxygen. Most of the recovery will be expected within the first four months after the attack, but if you engage with treatment you can still see benefits for years afterwards.

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