When the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, it can cause a stroke. The restriction of blood reaching the brain can lead to brain cells dying and causing brain injury, disability and possibly death.
There are two main causes of a stroke:
Ischaemic – this is where the blood supply is stopped due to a blood clot. Around 85% of strokes are caused by this.
Haemorrhagic – this is where a weak blood vessel within the brain bursts.
A mini-stroke, or Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA), is when blood supplying the brain is interrupted and can last from a few minutes to up to 24 hours. This can be seen as a warning sign at an increased risk of a full stroke in the future.
A stroke is a medical emergency. The sooner someone receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.
The main signs of a stroke make up the FAST test:
Face – the face, mouth or eye may drop to one side, or they may not be able to smile.
Arms – they cannot lift or hold their arms in the air and may feel weak or numb.
Speech – their speech becomes slurred, they are unable to speak or struggle to understand what is being said to them.
Time – call 999 immediately
The risk of having a stroke is increased if someone has certain conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol, but can also be accelerated by smoking, obesity or excessive alcohol intake.
Strokes are mainly treated with medications, some of which prevent and dissolve blood clots and reduce blood pressure. In some cases, surgery may be needed to remove clots, treat brain swelling and reduce the risk of further bleeding occurring if it’s a haemorrhagic stroke.
People who have suffered from a stroke will experience the effects differently. Rehabilitation can help some people recover their independence, whilst some may never fully recover and will need support adjusting to living with the effects. This could be from a loved one who will act as a primary carer or an external care assistant.
If a loved one has suffered from a stroke, it may be confusing or distressing to think about what you should do next. A range of support services is available to help both the person living with the effects of a stroke and their family. Following a stroke, it’s important for family members to find out if the home needs to be adapted to help stroke survivors remain comfortable within their own home. Encouraging a healthy diet, exercise, and regular visits to healthcare professionals may help reduce the risk of further strokes in the future. Helping to practise physiotherapy exercises and providing motivation to reach short-term and long-term goals can help support recovery better.
To find out more about how you can support a loved one after a stroke, please visit the Stroke Association website where you can find information, resources and stories from survivors.
At Heritage Healthcare, we provide home care and support services to help more people remain living independently and comfortably at home for longer. Find out more about how we can support you and your family by visiting ‘Our Services’ page. You can also find your nearest Heritage Healthcare office by clicking here and searching with your postcode.