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Stroke

A stroke occurs occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts (or ruptures). When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, so brain cells die. If a stroke occurs and blood flow can't reach the region that controls a particular body function, that part of the body won't work as it should.

For example, someone who had a small stroke may only have minor problems such as temporary weakness of an arm or leg. People who have larger strokes may be permanently paralyzed on one side of their body or lose their ability to speak. Some people recover completely while some survivors may have some type of long-term disability.

Types of Stroke:

Ischemic Stroke - caused either by a clot obstructing the flow of blood to the brain.

Hemorrhagic Stroke - caused by a blood vessel rupturing and preventing blood flow to the brain. While the lesser occurring of the two types of stroke it most often results in death.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or "mini stroke" - caused when blood flow to part of the brain stops for a short period of time, it can mimic stroke-like symptoms. These can appear and last less than 24 hours before disappearing. 

Signs of a stroke:

  • Face Drooping

  • Arm Weakness

  • Speech Difficulty

  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

  • Confusion or trouble understanding

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg

  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance

  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes

Remember!

If someone you know is experiencing any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Do not wait to call for help. Call for an ambulance
    Call 811 for T&T's ambulance service. Make sure to follow the operator’s instructions.

Early treatment can decrease the potential damage to your heart. Even if you're not sure if something is really wrong, you should get to a hospital if you experience symptoms of a stroke. 

Approxiamately 80% of strokes in adults are preventable, however after having a stroke, risks are much higher for having another one.

 Adopting healthy lifestyle habits and managing key risk factors, including high blood pressure and smoking  can help lower risks.

Risk factors for stroke include:​

  • Age - Risk increases as you get older due to a natural hardening of the arteries as we age.

  • Family History - Having a family history of stroke increases your risk.

  • Gender - Men are more likely than women to have strokes. However, women are more likely to

die from strokes. Additionally, pregnant women or women using birth control pills may be at a slightly higher risk.

  • High Blood Pressure - High blood pressure is the main risk factor for stroke. High blood pressure

weakens blood vessels, making it more likely for a blockage or a blood vessel in the brain to bleed, which can lead to stroke. 

  • Smoking - Smoking raises blood pressure and can damage blood vessels increasing the chance of

blockage or clot.

  • Diabetes - High glucose levels from diabetes can damage your blood vessels. Many people with

diabetes also have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and are overweight which further increases risk.

  • High Cholesterol - High levels of bad cholesterol can cause fatty deposits to build up in your arteries

and restrict the flow of blood. It also increases the chance of a blood clot developing.

  • Diet and Physical Inactivity - An unhealthy diet and lack of exercise can affect blood pressure,

cholesterol levels and put you at risk for other non-communicable disease like Diabetes.

  • Obesity Excess body weight has been linked to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart

attack and stroke.

  • Heart Diseases -  Cardiomyopathy, heart failure, atrial fibrillation and other heart conditions may

cause blood clots that can lead to stroke.

Recovery:

Not all strokes have the same effects, as a result, everyone's path to recovery is different. For some the effects may seem minor however, some people may be left with more serious long-term effects such as physical or communication challenges. 

Recovering from a stroke may involve making physical, social and, emotional changes. Changes may include:

  • Quitting smoking

  •  A healthy diet,

  • Maintaining a healthy weight, and

  • Being physically active. 

  • Relationship changes due to possible new limitations. 

  • Income and expenses may change depending on the effects of stroke experienced.

Recovery takes time and patience, coping with the impact of stroke is not easy. Make sure to work closely with your doctor and lean on your support system.