WHAT IS A STROKE?
Strokes are the leading cause of disability in the UK and the third most common cause of death after cancer and coronary heart disease.
A stroke is caused by a disturbance of blood supply to the brain. There are two main types of stroke which require different types of treatment:
- Ischaemic stroke, which is caused by a blockage of vessels that supply blood to the brain
- Haemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by bleeding into the brain
A TIA (Transient Ischaemic Attack) or ‘mini-stroke’ causes the same signs and symptoms as a stroke, but these disappear within 24 hours. TIA may not result in any long term problems but it could be a warning sign of a more serious stroke. However, it is important not to wait to see if the signs get better as it could be a full stroke and requires the same F.A.S.T. action to call 999 for an ambulance.
Act F.A.S.T. is a new national campaign aimed at helping people to recognise the signs of stroke, and act quickly to save lives and reduce the damage caused.
A stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention.
So recognising the signs and calling 999 for an ambulance is crucial.
Quick diagnosis of stroke is important to understanding the cause, assessing the damage and providing the right medical treatment immediately.
The sooner somebody who has had a stroke gets the right medical attention, the more of their brain might be saved and the better their chances of a good recovery. So minutes really do matter.
THE F.A.S.T TEST
F: Face; Has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
A: Arms: Can they raise both arms and keep them there?
S: Speech: Is their speech slurred?
T: Time to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs
If the person has failed any of these tests, dial 999 for an ambulance immediately so they can be taken to hospital for urgent treatment. Paramedics and ambulance staff are trained to assess patients with suspected stroke and get them to hospital quickly.
Stroke is a very common disease. Many strokes are caused by high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes. However, these factors do not explain all strokes and getting involved in research can play a valuable part in developing our knowledge of stroke. Research can help improve services, care and treatments. It can also play a part in identifying those at risk of illness and trying to prevent illness and identify the best use of resources. Northern Devon Healthcare Trust recruits appropriate patients into current research studies with consent.
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GENERAL STROKE RELATED INFORMATION:
- Stroke prevention (NHS Choices)