What is a Stroke?
The brain needs the oxygen and nutrients supplied by the blood in order to function properly. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, and brain cells begin to die, leading to brain damage and possibly death.
There are two main causes of strokes. An ischaemic stroke is the most common, and occurs when the blood supply is stopped due to a blood clot. A haemorrhagic blood vessel is when a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts and causes brain damage.
A related condition is a transient ischaemic attack, when the blood to the brain is temporarily interrupted and causes a mini stroke. This is often a sign that a stroke is coming.
How common is a Stroke?
Strokes are common in England, affecting over 150,000 people a year. It is the third largest cause of death after heart disease and cancer and the largest cause of adult disability in the UK. People over 65 are most at risk.
What are the symptoms of a Stroke?
The main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the words FAST- face, arms, speech, time. The face may have dropped on one side, the sufferer may not be able to lift one or both arms and their speech may be slurred. If you see these symptoms you must dial 999 immediately.
Strokes are further classified into Transient Ischaemic Attack - TIA - or “mini-stroke” , where the symptoms resolve within 24 hours. They should also be treated as a medical emergency.
How is a Stroke treated?
Strokes can be prevented by eating a healthy diet, doing regular exercise, drinking alcohol in moderation and not smoking. Lowering blood pressure with medication also lowers the risk of stroke.
Strokes can be treated with medication, and surgery in severe cases.
If access to Specialist Treatment centres is important, choose a policy with London Hospital coverage.