24 people a day will have a stroke in NZ.
all about strokes
A stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is restricted or stops altogether. This can happen when:
- An artery that takes oxygen to the brain gets blocked. This is called an Ischemic stroke, and is the most common form of stroke.
- A blood vessel in the brain ruptures. This is called a Hemorrhagic stroke.
As a result, the brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen or nutrients, and brain cells start to die off. Some people will die as a result of a stroke, some will make a full recovery, and others will be left with permanent damage, affecting their speech, mobility, eyesight or limbs. Strokes are largely preventable.
Before you have a stroke, you might have a “mini-stroke” in the days leading up to it. These are usually caused by a temporary blood clot. The signs are the same as a stroke, except they only last a short time, from a few minutes to a few hours. Mini-strokes don’t cause permanent damage to the brain.
Not everyone who has a mini-stroke will have a stroke, but many will, and it’s a sign there could be a problem with the blood supply to your brain.
When you’re having a stroke (or mini-stroke), you might experience all or some of these symptoms:
- Sudden numbness in the face, arm, or leg, usually only on one side of the body.
- Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding what is being said.
- Trouble seeing or blurred vision.
- Trouble walking, loss of balance and coordination.
- Having HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE is the biggest cause of strokes.
- People who smoke, are overweight, or do no exercise are at risk of having a stroke.
- Stroke risk can also be hereditary. If someone in your family has had a stroke, your risks increase.
- 75% of strokes occur in people over 65.
- More men have strokes than women.
If you have HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE, or someone in your family has had a stroke, you could be at risk. Talk to your doctor about it.
If you think you’ve had a mini-stroke, then go to your doctor. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, family history and lifestyle. They’ll listen to your heart, take your blood pressure, and send you for a blood test to check your cholesterol levels. You may be sent for a CT scan or ultrasound to look for a blockage or damage to the brain. Your doctor may also arrange for an ECG to monitor your heart rhythm, and a chest x-ray to check your heart and blood flow.
Depending on the cause and severity of your stroke, and the resulting conditions, you may need a combination of treatments:
- Medication to thin your blood, or prevent blood clots.
- Lifestyle changes to make to keep your blood pressure under control.
- Surgery to re-open the affected arteries. A stent may be inserted to hold the artery open and improve blood flow.
- Rehabilitation with a team of health professionals to help regain speech, coordination and mobility.
am i having a stroke?
By learning to recognise the symptoms of a stroke you could save a life! It could be yours, or someone else’s. Learn the FAST check.