What Exactly Are Strokes?

Human Skeleton

By Simon Francis 

The proper name for a stroke is cerebrovascular disease. A stroke occurs when the flow of blood to the brain is interrupted, usually due to a burst blood vessel, or when the flow of blood is blocked by a blood clot. This damages brain cells because they no longer receive the oxygen and nutrients that are needed to function normally. The impact of a stroke will depend greatly on the level of damage that the brain has received. A severe stroke can cause the individual physical disablement, mental impairment, and in the worst cases sudden death. Whilst the individual is having a stroke they may not ask for help or comprehend what is actually happening to them. This could cause the individual to become vulnerable and cause a risk to themselves or to others, dependent on what they were undertaking prior to the onset of the stroke.

Each year there are approximately 150,000 people in the United Kingdom that suffer from a stroke. this results in 53,000 deaths, which is over a third of stroke suffers. 13% of women’s and 9% of men’s total deaths are attributed to strokes. A quarter of all stroke victims are under 65 years of age, which is still working age.

Strokes can happen to absolutely anyone, it affects all people from all walks of life, young or old, fat or thin, male or female. Strokes are most often put into two major categories, these being ischaemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke.

Ischaemic strokes represent 80% of stroke cases and are caused by a blood clot that blocks the blood supply to the brain. This usually occurs in either of the following two ways:

Embolic Stroke – This is where a blood clot has formed elsewhere on the body and travels through the bloodstream to the brain, which then gets stuck in a smaller blood vessel which blocks the flow of blood.

Thrombotic stroke – This is where a clot forms in blood vessels that are already clogged with fatty deposits. These fatty deposits usually clog major blood vessels in the individual’s neck which then reduces blood flow to the brain.

A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a blood vessel located in the brain breaking, then leaking blood into the brain itself. This type of stroke accounts to approximately 20% of all strokes and can happen in either of the following two ways:

Intracerebral Haemorrhage – This is where the blood vessel in the brain bursts and spills blood into the actual brain tissue which then proceeds to damage cells. Brain tissue in the surrounding area also gets deprived of oxygen and is also damaged.

Subarachnoid Haemorrhage – This is where the bleeding starts in a blood vessel on and very near the surface of the brain and then spills blood into the space between the surface of the brain and the skull itself.

There is also a related condition known as a transient ischaemic attack which is often referred to as a mini-stroke. This occurs when a clot or debris interrupts or blocks blood flow to a certain part of the brain. It often goes unrecognized as the symptoms are very slight and most commonly last for just a short moment of time. the effect of several of these mini-strokes can be as debilitating as a severe stroke.

The main symptoms of a stroke are sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, and especially on one side of the body. Other symptoms may include sudden confusion, loss of balance, dizziness, lack of coordination, severe headache, fainting, difficulty in walking, vision difficulty and unconsciousness. Immediate medical attention is vital to help save the life of a stroke victim and to also limit long term disability from a stroke. The first aid technique includes the acronym F.A.S.T, which stands for Face (Weakness or dropping of the face), Arm (Can casualty raise arm), Speech (Can casualty speak or has trouble speaking), Time to Act (Recovery position affected side down and call emergency services).

The best treatment for a stroke is simply prevention. Making healthy choices and taking exercise in everyday life greatly reduces the risks attributed to a stroke. There are several different risk factors that can increase the chance of a having a stroke, these include, genetics, age, weight, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol levels

Simon Francis is the lead trainer and center manager for dynamo concise training. Website http://www.dynamoconcisetraining.com

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