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Stroke - Some information

Most strokes occur in the second half of life and are caused by damage to the blood vessels - and sometimes to the heart - which has been building up slowly for many years. The actual stroke takes place either when a blood clot forms in a damaged vessel and blocks the flow of blood to part of the brain, or when a damaged blood vessel in the brain bursts and blood pours from the brain itself.

In at least half of all strokes the reason why the blood vessels become damaged in the first place is because they have been exposed to high blood pressure. If in addition the patient smokes, drinks heavily, is overweight, takes too much salt in his diet, or has heart disease or diabetes the risk of stroke is increased. A number of other factors are suspected, but there is no single cause of stroke.

Unfortunately anyone can suffer a stroke at any time, although the risks can be substantially reduced by a healthy life style, including the avoidance of smoking, and especially by having blood pressure checked and if it is too high, ensuring that it is kept under control by treatment.

Recognising a stroke

In  the  last  month  or  so  the  news  has covered the stories of several well-known   people   who   have   suffered  a  major  stroke  with  tragic consequences.   The  key  to  recovery  is to get to a stroke victim within three  hours,  but  the  trick  is getting a stroke recognised in the first place.   Sometimes  the symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify, and unfortunately  the  lack  of awareness spells disaster as the stroke victim may  suffer brain damage while people nearby fail to recognise the symptoms of  a  stroke.   Now doctors say you can recognise a stroke by asking three simple questions:

·     Ask the individual to SMILE.
·     Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.
·     Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE  (e.g. It is sunny out today)

If  he  or  she  has  trouble  with  any  of these tasks, call an ambulance immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.  Widespread use of this  simple  test  could  result  in prompt diagnosis and treatment of the stroke  and prevent brain damage.  This is not difficult - yet could save a life. Info on Stroke
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