Strokes

Did you Know that 150,000 people a year in the UK are affected by strokes… 20% of these will be below the age of 40; the majority will be over 65… The speed in which we react to the symptoms will have a huge in-pact on the quality & time of the recovery.

Stroke symptoms typically start suddenly, over seconds to minutes, and in most cases do not progress further. The symptoms depend on the area of the brain affected. The more extensive the area of brain affected, the more functions that are likely to be lost. Some forms of stroke can cause additional symptoms. For example, in intracranial hemorrhage, the affected area may compress other structures. Most forms of stroke are not associated with headaches, but this can be a symptom in certain types.

Recognizing the Symptoms:

The best rule of thumb is FAST (face, arm, speech, and time) no doubt most of us have seen this in the recent UK TV ad campaign. Is there a drooping of the face, a loss of control of the arm (s), is the speech slurred or disoriented. Time is key, the earlier an assessment is carried the sooner treatment can start and this can affect the long term recovery for the sufferer.

In most cases, the symptoms affect only one side of the body. Depending on the part of the brain affected, the defect in the brain is usually on the opposite side of the body. However, since these pathways also travel in the spinal cord and any lesion there can also produce these symptoms, the presence of any one of these symptoms does not always indicate a stroke.

Symptoms can include:

  • altered smell, taste, hearing, or vision (total or partial)
  • drooping of eyelid and weakness of eye muscles
  • decreased reflexes: gag, swallow, pupil reactivity to light
  • decreased sensation and muscle weakness of the face
  • balance problems
  • altered breathing and heart rate
  • weakness in neck muscle with inability to turn head to one side
  • weakness in tongue (inability to protrude and/or move from side to side)
  • difficulty with verbal expression, auditory comprehension, reading and/or writing
  • memory deficit
  • visual disturbances
  • trouble walking / altered movement coordination

Associated symptoms:

Loss of consciousness, headache, and vomiting usually occurs more often in hemorrhagic stroke than in thrombosis because of the increased intracranial pressure from the leaking blood compressing the brain.

We can reduce the risk of having a stroke by making small changes to our lifestyles. Prevention is always better than cure…