What is a stroke?
Stroke occurs when part of the brain dies because it is cut off from its blood supply for too long. This can happen because of a clot in an artery to the brain or because of a bleed from a brain artery.
How do you know if someone is having a stroke?
Depending on what part of the brain is affected, there may be different symptoms. The main features to watch out for are:
Face - Is the face uneven or drooping on one side?
Arms - Is the person weak or numb on one side? Can they hold both arms out in front of them equally or does one arm drift down?
Speech - Is their speech slurred, strange or are they having difficulty finding words?
Time - Time is brain! If you notice these signs call 999 or 112 for an ambulance right away!
How can I avoid stroke?
The risk factors for stroke are well established. You can take action to control them better.
Blood pressure - have it checked and keep it under control with medications maintaining a healthy weight, good diet and exercise. Try to keep your salt intake to a minimum.
Diabetes - If you're diabetic, tight blood sugar control will help
Cholesterol - have it checked and adjust your diet to improve it or take medicine if necessary
Smoking - QUIT!
Irregular heart rhythms- People with an irregular heartbeat known as Atrial Fibrillation are at risk of developing clots in their heart which travel to the brain causing a stroke. Your GP can check your pulse and if necessary you can have a test called an ECG to diagnose this condition. People with Atrial Fibrillation need to take blood-thinning medicine to reduce their risk of stroke.
What treatment is available?
The treatment for stroke is different depending on whether it's caused by a clot or a bleed. The sooner the diagnosis is made and treatment starts, the better the outcome. So don't waste time - get to the hospital fast!
If the stroke is caused by a clot medicine can be given to break it down and open the artery. Before going home, tablets to try to prevent further clots will be prescribed.If the stroke is caused by a bleed medicine can be given to reduce the damage and reverse blood-thinning medication the person might be on. In some cases it is necessary to do surgery to stop the bleed or repair the artery.
For more information on Atrial Fibrillation and Stroke visit www.IrishHeart.ie