About strokes

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What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when blood flow to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, resulting in damage to, or death of, brain cells. A stroke can be caused by a narrowed blood vessel, bleeding, or a clot that blocks blood flow. The brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients in order to function properly and brain cells begin to die if blood or oxygen is stopped even for a short time.

The symptoms of a stroke may vary depending on the location and severity of the brain damage, but they often include sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body, difficulty speaking or understanding speech, sudden vision changes, dizziness or loss of balance, and severe headache.

There are two types of stroke – ischemic and haemorrhagic.

An ischaemic stroke is a type of stroke that occurs when a blood clot or other blockage (such as a piece of plaque) forms in an artery that supplies blood to the brain, reducing or cutting off the blood supply to that area of the brain. This blockage deprives the brain cells of oxygen and nutrients, leading to their damage or death. Approximately 85% of strokes are ischemic.

A haemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, spilling blood into nearby tissues and causing pressure to build up in brain tissue. Haemorrhagic strokes are less common but are usually more severe. There are two main types of haemorrhagic stroke: intracerebral haemorrhage and subarachnoid haemorrhage.

Intracerebral haemorrhage occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, causing bleeding within the brain tissue. This type of stroke is often caused by high blood pressure, but can also be caused by other factors such as trauma, aneurysms and blood clotting disorders.

Subarachnoid haemorrhage occurs when there is bleeding in the space between the brain and the tissues that cover the brain.

Effects of Stroke

How a stroke affects you depends on where the stroke occurs in your brain, and on how much your brain is damaged. For some people the effects of a stroke may be relatively minor and may not last long, while others may be left with long-term effects or a disability.

The effects of stroke include:

  • Movement and balance problems
  • Communication problems
  • Problems with memory, concentration and thinking (cognition).
  • Problems with vision
  • Problems with swallowing
  • Continence problems
  • Fatigue

There is no cure for stroke once it has occurred, but advanced medical and surgical treatments are available which can help reduce the risk of another stroke.

Useful Links

There are several places that you can go to get more information about Parkinson’s, its symptoms, treatment options and advice about living with the condition.

Stroke Association

The Stroke Association supports people in rebuilding their lives after a stroke in the belief that everyone deserves to live the best life they can after a stroke. The Association provide specialist support, fund critical research and campaign to make sure people affected by stroke get the very best care and support to rebuild their lives.

The Carers’ Trust

Provides support, information, advice and services for the millions of people caring at home for a family member or friend. Their Network Partners reach carers of all ages and with a range of responsibilities, in their local communities. From helping carers to access local services, to making their views heard by opinion-formers and professionals, together they help carers to connect with everyone and everything that can make a difference to their lives.

Carers Bucks

Carers Bucks is part of Carers Trust (national network of Carers Centres around the UK). Commissioned by Buckinghamshire County Council, Carers Bucks is a countywide charity offering support to adult carers and young carers.  They support the health and wellbeing of unpaid carers and supports unpaid carers of all ages and in different caring roles. These caring roles include young carers, young adult carers and older carers.  They provide a number of services for the benefit of carers in Buckinghamshire, including a Caring for Older Carers (75+) service, parent carer training, young adult carers support and a Carers Lounge at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.  All services are free to carers.