Action on Stroke Month - Make May Purple

Date: Monday, May 01, 2017

May is Action on Stroke month. One to One have gathered some information to help you know more

May is Action on Stroke Month so we have gathered some information from the Stroke Association website to help you know all of the risks and how to cope if someone is having a stroke.

The Stroke Association have reported that every 2 seconds, someone in the world will have a stroke and that in the UK each year, there is a stroke around every 5 minutes (100,000 a year). They have also reported that strokes are the fourth single leading cause of death in the UK.


What is a stroke?

So first of all what is a stroke? A stroke is a brain attack, it happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off. When this blood supply is cut off the essential nutrients and oxygen cannot get to your brain. Without blood, your brain cells can be damaged or even die. The older we get our arteries become harder and narrower and more likely to become blocked. 


Are there different types of strokes?

Yes there are a few different types of stroke, they are:

  • Ischaemic Stroke - This is the most common type of stroke. This is when a blockage, sometimes caused by a blood clot, forms in an artery leading to the brain or within one of the small vessels inside the brain. Known as cerebral thrombosis. Blockages can also be caused by:

- Atherosclerosis which is when fatty deposits build up on the inside of the walls of your arteries. This causes them to become narrower and harder making them more likely to be blocked.

- Small vessel disease. This is when tiny blood vessels in your brain become blocked. Deposits collect in the blood vessels which causes them to thicken.

- Heart conditions can cause blood clots to form in your heart.

-  Arterial dissection, which happens when tears develop in the lining of an artery and allows the blood to get stuck between the layers of your artery walls. This can happen for no clear reason, but it may happen because of and injury. 


  • Haemorrhagic stroke - These are due to bleeding around or in the brain. They are not as common but can be more serious than Ischaemic strokes. A haemorrhagic stroke can happen when an artery inside your brain bursts causing bleeding in the brain. It can also happen because of bleeding on the surface of your brain. Some of the things that can cause bleeding on and within the brain are:

- Drug usage can cause irritation of blood vessel walls making them weaker and more likely to rupture.

- High blood pressure is the main cause of strokes. It weakens the arteries and makes them more likely to tear.

- Cerebral amyloid angiopathy, which is a condition where a protein called amyloid builds up inside the blood vessels in the brain. This condition is more common in older people.

- Anticoagulant medication helps to prevent your blood from clotting. However, if it is not closely monitored can sometimes cause bleeding. 

- An aneurysm is a weak spot on an artery, this is where the walls become thin and weak because they have been stretched. This means they can burst easily, especially if you have high blood pressure. Aneurysms are sometimes present at birth, but smoking, using cocaine and some medical conditions can cause if to develop.  


  • Transient Ischaemic Attack  (TIA) - TIA is known as a mini stroke, it is the same as a stroke but symptoms last for a shorter amount of time and no longer than 24 hours. Like a stroke, TIA is caused by a blockage cutting off the blood supply to part of your brain. The difference with TIA is the blockage is temporary, it either dissolves on its own or it moves so the blood supply can return to normal. The cause of the blockage is normally a blood clot or sometimes even an air bubble in your blood stream.


What to do if someone is having a stroke?

Strokes are medical emergencies so if someone is having a stroke dial 999 immediately.


How are strokes diagnosed?

Strokes are usually diagnosed with a brain scan. Either a Computed Tomography or a Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scan. This will give the doctors a clear idea of what caused the stroke. 


What treatment will be offered if you suffer a stroke?

If you have a haemorrhagic stroke you may need surgery to stop the bleed, remove the blood or relieve the pressure around your brain. This operation is called a craniotomy. The surgeon will cut away a small part of your skull so that they can get to your brain. 

If an aneurysm caused your stroke then an operation may have to happen to seal it and stop the bleed. 

You could be given medication to lower your blood pressure if this was the cause. If the anticoagulant medication was the cause of your bleed you will normally be given another drug to reverse the effects.


How do you reduce your risk of a stroke?

There are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of a stroke such as:

  • A healthy diet 
  • Stop smoking
  • Reduce/stop your alcohol intake
  • Speak to your doctor about your blood pressure 


 To find out more or to donate to the Stroke Association click here.


*All stroke information courtesy of the Stroke Association, stroke.org.uk

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