According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, every hour at least 10 South Africans will suffer a stroke. These statistic show why stroke is one of the leading killers in this country. However, the good news is that, through educating yourself about it, you can significantly lower your chances of suffering a stroke.
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when the blood that carries needed oxygen and minerals to the brain cannot reach it. This may be due to a clot in the artery or a burst artery. If the brain is starved from blood for too long, brain cells may become damaged or die which could lead to brain damage and, in severe cases, death.
What does a stroke feel like?
Those who have suffered a stroke before have described it as not being painful at all. The only pain associated with a stroke is having a sharp and sudden headache.
However, having a stroke does come with a list of signs and symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of a stroke
People who suffer a stroke may experience one or more of the following symptoms and will need medical treatment as soon as possible:
- Speech problems or having difficulty understanding others
- Feeling of numbness or drooping on one side of the face or body
- Struggling to walk or balance
- Sharp or throbbing headache
- Having trouble swallowing
- Impaired vision
Types of stroke
There are three types of stroke:
1 Ischaemic strokes refer to a stroke that is caused by a clot that blocks the flow of blood.
2 Haemorrhagic strokes are caused when blood cannot reach the brain due to a blood vessel that has burst.
3 Mini strokes refer to a short-lasting stroke caused by temporary blood clots.
What causes a stroke?
If you suspect that you may be at risk of having a stroke, speak to your doctor. Here are a few causes to look out for:
- Age: The older a person gets, the more their arteries harden and narrow which could lead to an ischaemic stroke.
- Gender: Women (especially after menopause) are more likely to die of stroke than men.
- Family history: If you have a close relative who has suffered a stroke, then you may be at risk too.
- Lifestyle: This can be a major contributing factor to the risk of your having a stroke. People who smoke, are overweight, have hypertension, have high levels of stress, drink copious amounts of alcohol and do not exercise regularly could be more at risk.
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Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com; www.health24.com; www.futureofpersonalhealth.com