Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Groups are supporting Stroke Awareness Month by encouraging residents to adopt a healthy lifestyle - such as eating a healthy diet, taking regular exercise, drinking alcohol in moderation and not smoking - as this can significantly reduce the risk of having a stroke.
It is estimated that there are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK each year which is around one stroke every five minutes. In the UK there are over 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK. Stroke is the fourth biggest.
It is estimated that around 30% of people who have a stroke will go on to experience another stroke. Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the UK, and there are around 32,000 stroke-related deaths in England each year, although deaths related to stroke have declined in the past 15 years.
A stroke is a serious, life-threatening medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Strokes are a medical emergency and urgent treatment is essential because the sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.
The main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word FAST: Face-Arms-Speech-Time.
- Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
- Arms –the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of arm weakness or numbness in one arm.
- Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake.
- Time – it is time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
Like all organs, the brain needs the oxygen and nutrients provided by blood to function properly. If the supply of blood is restricted or stopped, brain cells begin to die. This can lead to brain injury, disability and possibly death.
There are two main causes of strokes:
- ischaemic –where the blood supply is stopped due to a blood clot (this accounts for 85% of all cases)
- haemorrhagic –where a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts
There is also a related condition known as a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), where the supply of blood to the brain is temporarily interrupted, causing a "mini-stroke" often lasting between 30 minutes and several hours. TIAs should be treated seriously as they are often a warning sign that you are at risk of having a full stroke in the near future.