According to Stroke UK, there are 100,000 strokes per year!  This means that stroke is becoming one of the leading causes of death in the UK and is now the leading cause of disability.  

An ischaemic stroke happens when the blood flow to the brain is cut off, for example, a clot in an artery delivering oxygen to the brain.  The lack of oxygen to the brain damages the brain cells.  Another type of stroke is a haemorrhagic stroke, this is where a blood vessel bursts within or on the surface of the brain. 

The damage to the brain can result in a loss of function, and the location of the damage will determine what functions that are lost.  The severity of the stroke is determined by how quickly it is resolved, and the location of the blockage or burst vessel.  The results of a stroke can vary but common complications include weakness or paralysis of limbs, loss of communication, memory loss, fatigue, pain, and numbness.

The acronym FAST is used to increase the speed at which stroke is identified and emergency services can be contacted.  The faster a stroke can be treated, the greater the likelihood of saving function.  FAST stands for:

  • Facial weakness
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech problems
  • Time to call 999

There is not just one causes a stroke, but there are many lifestyle factors that impact on the risks of having a stroke, these include:

So, what can you do to help reduce the risk of a stroke?

  • Increase your physical activity, you can do this by walking, cycling, swimming, or coming to Heart Care regularly
  • Maintain a healthy bodyweight, this includes watching what you eat and keeping to the daily recommended calories
  • Reduce saturated fat intake, these are found in full fat dairy, red meat, cakes, and pastries
  • Reduce alcohol consumption, you could try alcohol free drinks if you like the taste
  • Quit smoking, using NHS run stop smoking services can help you to quit for good

If you would like any more information on stroke, speak to one of our nurses or exercise physiologists at Heart Care.

Ryan Hodgkinson - Exercise Physiologist