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A stroke occurs when there is a blood clot or bleeding in one of the blood vessels within the brain. The brain is a unique and delicate organ that requires a constant supply of oxygen, carried via the intricate and extensive network of blood vessels in the brain. Blood leakage from a burst vessel, can damage the surrounding brain tissue, whereas a blood clot can block a blood vessel and cause a particular part of the brain to die. With either case, the affected area of the brain will not be able to function as it did before the episode.

What are the possible symptoms of stroke?
The symptoms and signs of a stroke depend on the part of the brain that has been affected. Immediate medical attention should be sought for someone suspected of suffering a stroke. Symptoms of a stroke can include:

A loss of consciousness. A person can feel disorientated and less aware or they may loss consciousness completely.
The person may have problems speaking. This can mean the person has difficulties saying the words or doesn’t make sense in what they are saying.
The person can have difficulty understanding what is being said to them.
The individual may loss his short-term or long-term memory.
A person’s vision may be affected in one or both eyes.
The person might find it difficult to eat in terms of swallowing or chewing. They may also dribble from the side of their mouth.
The person may have problems controlling their bladder and bowels.
Loss of feeling and sensation in areas of the body can occur, usually along one side.
Problems with co-ordination, balance and sudden changes in mood/emotion may also be evident.

What support is available?
The treatment plan for a stroke victim depends upon the type of symptoms and severity of the stroke they have suffered. People can make good recoveries from certain types of stroke, were as some can be left with long-term disability. It is extremely important to begin rehabilitating a stroke victim as soon as is possible. Support and assistance from family, hospital staff and professionals in different areas of rehabilitation along with good aftercare at home are important. Help would be available from, social workers, district nurses, physiotherapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, home-helpers and meals on wheels.

What can cause a stroke?
Atherosclerosis is the most common cause for the onset of a stroke. This is were the arteries become narrower due to a build of fatty cholesterol and other substances on their interior surface. When one of these arteries becomes completely blocked in the heart, it can result in a heart attack and alternately if it occurs in the brain it can cause a stroke. Abnormalities in the brain vessel structure can also make them vulnerable to bursting. Risk factors which can contribute towards a stroke occurring include:

High Blood Pressure
High Cholesterol
Lack of Exercise
Family History of Stroke
Atrial Fibrillation - A type of irregular heartbeat
Other Causes of Heart Disease



Stroke Association
Different Strokes
Stroke Directory

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