Tuesday, 02 September 2014

What causes stroke?

Fri, 08/31/2012 - 12:20 -- Sylvanus Agbo
Written By: 
Wabuji Kefas Dore

A stroke means that the blood supply to a part of the brain is suddenly cut off. The brain cells need a constant supply of oxygen from the blood. Soon after the blood supply is cut off, the cells in the affected area of brain become damaged, or die. A stroke can occur at any age, even in babies.

What  causes stroke?
A stroke means that the blood supply to a part of the brain is suddenly cut off. The brain cells need a constant supply of oxygen from the blood. Soon after the blood supply is cut off, the cells in the affected area of brain become damaged, or die. A stroke can occur at any age, even in babies.
There are two main types of stroke - ischaemic and haemorrhagic. Ischaemic stroke - occurs in about 7 in 10 cases. Ischaemic means a reduced blood and oxygen supply to a part of the body. This common form of stroke is usually caused by blood clot in an artery which blocks the flow of blood.
Haemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke
A damaged or weakened artery may 'burst' and bleed
What are the symptoms of a stroke?
The functions of the different parts of the body are controlled by different parts of the brain. So, the symptoms vary depending on which part of the brain is affected, and on the size of the damaged area. Symptoms develop suddenly, and usually include one or more of the following:
•Weakness of an arm, leg, or both. This may range from total paralysis of one side of the body, to mild clumsiness of one hand.
•Weakness and 'twisting' of one side of the face. This may cause you to drool saliva.
•Problems with balance, co-ordination, vision, speech, communication, or swallowing.
•Dizziness or unsteadiness.
•Numbness in a part of the body.
•Headache.
•Confusion.
•Loss of consciousness (occurs in         severe cases)
A quick guide to remember
A stroke is a medical emergency and need immediate medical attention. As a way of helping the general public become more aware of the symptoms of a stroke, a simple 'symptom checklist' to remember has been devised. This is to think of the word 'FAST'. That is:
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 they understand what you say?
T - Test for each of the above three things.
If any of these symptoms suddenly develop, then the person needs to see a doctor urgently. So call an ambulance FAST. The FAST checklist does not cover every possible symptom of stroke. However, it is easy to remember and it is estimated that about 8 or 9 in 10 people with a stroke or will have one or more 'FAST' symptoms.
Can strokes be prevented?
As described above, a common reason why a blood clot forms is because it develops over a patch of atheroma on the lining of an artery. Certain 'risk factors' increase the chance of atheroma forming - which increase your risk of having a stroke (and heart attack). You can reduce the risk of having a stroke (or a further stroke) if you reduce your 'risk factors'. Briefly, risk factors that can be modified are:
•Smoking. If you smoke, stopping smoking can greatly cut your risk of having a stroke.
•High blood pressure. Make sure your blood pressure is checked at least once a year. If it is high it can be treated. High blood pressure usually causes no symptoms, but can be damaging to the arteries. If you have high blood pressure, treatment of the blood pressure is likely to have the greatest effect on reducing your risk of having a stroke.
•If you are overweight, losing some weight is advised.
•A high cholesterol. This can be treated if it is high.
•Inactivity. If able, you should aim to do some moderate physical activity on most days of the week for at least 30 minutes. For example, brisk walking, swimming, cycling, dancing, gardening, etc.
• Diet. You should aim to eat a healthy diet. Briefly, a healthy diet means:
• AT LEAST five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables per day.
• THE BULK OF MOST MEALS should be starch-based foods (such as cereals, wholegrain bread, potatoes, rice, pasta), plus fruit and vegetables.
•          NOT MUCH fatty food such as fatty meats, full-cream milk, fried food, butter, etc. Use low fat, mono-, or poly-unsaturated spreads.
•          INCLUDE 2-3 portions of fish per week. At least one of which should be 'oily' (such as herring, mackerel, sardines, kippers, pilchards, salmon, or fresh tuna).
•          If you eat meat it is best to eat lean meat, or poultry such as chicken.
•          If you do fry, choose a vegetable oil such as sunflower, rapeseed or olive oil.
•          Try not to add

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