The medical term for a stroke is cerebrovascular accident or CVA.
A stroke can occur when blood flow to any area of the brain is cut off. This is dangerous as the blood contains oxygen in the red blood cells which after entering the lungs is transported by oxyhaemoglobin. When a stroke occurs, little to no oxygen reaches areas of the brain which leads to the death of brain cells. Usually, when brain cells die, abilities controlled by that area e.g. speech – cerebral cortex or muscle contraction – cerebellum, can be severely affected.
The main causes of strokes:
- Ischemic strokes
- Blood vessels carrying blood to the brain are blocked by a blood clot or narrowed, resulting in ischemia – severely reduced blood flow.
- Accounts for 85% of strokes
2. Hemorrhagic strokes
- A brain aneurysm – bursting of a blood vessel or a brain haemorrhage – blood vessel leak.
- The leaked blood puts pressure on brain cells causing them to die or be damaged.
3. Transient ischemic attacks (TIA)
- Blood flow to the brain ceases for a short period of time, often referred to as a mini stroke.
- Can be caused by blood clots.
F.A.S.T is a simple method to remember the signs of a stroke.
F – Face Drooping, A – Arm Weakness, S – Speech Difficulty, T – Time to call the emergency services.
While this is a simple method to learning the signs of a stroke, there are a variety of symptoms associated with having a stroke:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Not smoking
- Avoiding alcohol or moderating consumption
However sometimes, strokes can still occur.