Your Health is Your Wealth: Stroke

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - Health & Wellbeing -

What is a stroke?

Stroke oc­curs when an artery sup­ply­ing blood to the brain ei­ther sud­denly be­comes blocked (is­chaemic stroke or cere­bral in­farc­tion) or be­gins to bleed (haem­or­rhagic stroke).

What is tran­sient is­chaemic at­tack (TIA)?

A con­di­tion re­lated to stroke is tran­sient is­chaemic at­tack, which re­sults from a tem­po­rary block­age of the blood sup­ply to the brain, usu­ally last­ing only a few min­utes, and pro­duc­ing stroke like symp­toms that dis­ap­pear within 24 hours. It is a very im­por­tant pre­dic­tor of stroke.

Risk fac­tors

Stroke may re­sult in part of the brain dy­ing, lead­ing to sud­den im­pair­ment that can af­fect a range of func­tions. Stroke of­ten causes paral­y­sis of parts of the body nor­mally con­trolled by the area of the brain af­fected by the stroke, or speech prob­lems and other symp­toms such as dif­fi­cul­ties with swal­low­ing, vi­sion and think­ing.

In many but not all cases stroke is pre­ventable be­cause many of its risk fac­tors are mod­i­fi­able, such as: • • • • • • • High blood pres­sure. Physical in­ac­tiv­ity. Ab­dom­i­nal obe­sity. To­bacco smok­ing.

Symp­toms of Stroke

Mo­tor im­pair­ments (weak­ness or paral­y­sis of parts of the body, in­clud­ing the face, on one or both sides). Sen­sory im­pair­ments (touch, pain, warm/cold), most of­ten on one side. Speech dif­fi­cul­ties or slurred speech. • • • • Vi­sion dif­fi­cul­ties (sud­den loss of vi­sion, blurred vi­sion), most of­ten on one side. Dizzi­ness, loss of bal­ance or un­ex­plained fall. Sud­den se­vere headache. Dif­fi­culty swal­low­ing.

Stroke is some­times re­ferred to as cere­brovas­cu­lar dis­ease, but cere­brovas­cu­lar dis­ease is ac­tu­ally a broad cat­e­gory of dis­eases that in­clude stroke and other dis­or­ders of the blood ves­sels sup­ply­ing the brain or its cov­er­ing mem­branes.

Early as­sess­ment

The Clin­i­cal guide­lines for stroke man­age­ment 2010 rec­om­mend that all pa­tients with sus­pected stroke should have brain imag­ing within 24 hours of ad­mis­sion. Of the pa­tients in­cluded in the stroke clin­i­cal au­dit, 89% had brain imag­ing per­formed within 24 hours of their ad­mis­sion.

Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of stroke

Stroke re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion en­com­passes a range of mea­sures de­signed to help im­prove a pa­tient’s func­tion­ing af­ter a stroke and/or to pre­vent de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of func­tion­ing. It aims to max­imise a pa­tient’s physical, psy­cho­log­i­cal, so­cial and fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence, and ide­ally be­gins the first day af­ter a stroke. Var­i­ous el­e­ments of stroke re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion have been shown to sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove out­comes for pa­tients.

Stroke poses a sig­nif­i­cant bur­den on pa­tients and their fam­i­lies, as well as on the health sys­tem and aged-care ser­vices. It is as­so­ci­ated with se­ri­ous out­comes for pa­tients and their car­ers. One in seven stroke hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tions ended in death and one in ev­ery three sur­vivors had a dis­abil­ity caused by stroke. God bless,

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