Stroke is the largest cause of disability in the UK, and third most common cause of death (after heart disease and cancer). Each year 110,000 people in the UK have a first stroke, and about 30,000 have a recurrent stroke. A stroke causes damage to the brain and is due to either a blood clot in the brain (called an ischaemic stroke) or bleeding in the brain (called haemorrhagic stroke). Outcome following a stroke depends on several factors such as the part of the brain affected, the extent of brain damage and how quickly treatment is given. Both a stroke and a mini-stroke (called TIA) are medical emergencies and need immediate medical attention. If you develop any of the following, you should dial 999 immediately (remember FAST):
- F - Facial Weakness. Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
- A - Arm Weakness. Can the person raise both arms?
- S - Speech Disturbance. Can the person speak clearly? can the understand you?
- T - Time to call 999 immediately if you or an other person have any of the above symptoms.
There are several things that put you at higher risk of a having a stroke, but there are also lots of things that you can do to reduce your risk. These include:
- Stopping smoking - If you would like help with this, click here for more information
- Eating a healthy low fat diet and taking regular exercise at least three times a week
- Keeping your weight within a normal level
- Drinking alcohol within the recommended limits (21 unites of alcohol per week for men, and 12 units per week for women?
If you have had a TIA or stroke in the past, you will be invited by letter for an annual review with the Practice Nurse. At this check, the Nurse will:
- Discuss your symptoms and the impact your symptoms are having on you
- Review your medications, and any side effects that you have
- Check your weight, height and blood pressure
- Take blood samples to check your kidney function, blood count, cholesterol level and sugar level
- Address any risk factors for strokes outlined above, and help you reduce these
- Provide help with stopping smoking if applicable
- Offer you the annual Flu vaccine
- Perform a screening test for depression as some patients after a stroke develop low moods