There are around 100,000 recorded strokes in the UK each year which account for around 38,000 deaths, 80% of which could be preventable. A stroke is a very serious condition where the blood supply which carries oxygen to your brain, is blocked or cut off by a blood clot. This type of stroke is called an ischaemic stroke and is the most common. There is also another type of stroke which is less common, called a haemorrhagic stroke; this is where a blood vessel bursts and bleeds onto the brain.
Can a stroke be treated?
A stroke kills brain cells, so how quickly a person receives treatment, is incredibly vital to their survival and the severity of a person’s long-lasting brain damage. If someone is having an ischaemic stroke, the patient will be treated with a medicine which dissolves blood clots, thus allowing blood to get back to the brain. A haemorrhagic stroke will usually be treated by brain surgery to try and remove blood from the brain and repair the vessel that has burst.
What lifestyle factors can contribute towards having a stroke?
- High salt and fat diets
- Not exercising regularly
- Drinking excessive alcohol
- Old age
- If a person has had a stroke before, they are more likely to have another.
Many of the contributing factors are lifestyle choices and addressing these can reduce your risk. However, there are several other predisposing causes which you might not be aware of but which if detected can be treated. These include:
- Irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation) which increases risk of blood clot
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Furring up of the neck arteries which supply blood to the brain
- Small aneurysms or arteriovenous malformation within the brain arteries which increases risk of brain haemorrhage
UK stroke physicians created an acronym (FAST) to help people better understand and most importantly remember what to look out for when distinguishing a stroke. Each letter stands for a sign that you should look for if you think someone could be having a stroke.
What does FAST stand for?
- Face- a person who is having a stroke will experience involuntary drooping of all or one side of their face.
- Arms- someone who is having a stroke may lose the ability to lift their arms or clench their fists.
- Speech- a person’s speech will be extremely slurred, or the person may lose ability to speak completely.
- Time- the time in which a person Is treated for a stroke plays a vital part in their survival and brain damage rate.
The most common symptom that comes when having a stroke is facial drooping, this is because the nerves in the brain that control the muscles in the face, are disrupted by the stroke. If a person is experiencing involuntary face drooping, even if unaccompanied by any of the other symptoms, it is important to seek urgent medical help.
What actions can be taken to help prevent a stroke?
Maintaining good health and addressing the lifestyle risks is a key factor for lowering your chances of suffering a stroke. These include eating healthily, maintaining a regular exercise routine, avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol in moderation. However, no amount of healthy living can make you totally immune from disease.
At Echelon Health, we offer a range of Health Assessments to screen for many of the most common diseases which can cause premature death. Our dedicated Stroke Risk is for those people who have concerns over their risk of a stroke. It involves a powerful MRI scan of the brain tissue to determine signs of any vascular damage and also the brain arteries to look for any aneurysms or arteriovenous malformations, as well as the inside of the neck arteries looking for the earliest signs of furring up. In addition, we perform detailed blood tests as well as perform an ECG recording of your heart looking for rhythm disturbances. If anything untoward is found you can be reassured that an effective treatment plan will be put in place, or an onward referral to one of our trusted specialists will be arranged. Prevention is always better than cure.
Click Here to view our Health Assessment Packages which include scanning the body for the early signs of a stroke.