Men and stroke
Men are 25% more likely than women to have a stroke. The number of men who have had a stroke ranges from 2% in Northern Ireland to 3.3% in Scotland.
Stroke causes around 7% of male deaths.
Understanding the risks around stroke is the first step in helping to prevent a stroke.
How does a stroke occur?
There are two types of stroke.
- Ischaemic stroke is similar to a heart attack, except it occurs in the blood vessels of the brain. Clots can form either in the brain's blood vessels, in blood vessels leading to the brain, or even blood vessels elsewhere in the body which then travel to the brain. These clots block blood flow to the brain's cells. Ischaemic stroke can also occur when too much plaque (fatty deposits and cholesterol) clogs the brain's blood vessels. About 80% of all strokes are of this nature.
- Haemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel in the brain breaks or ruptures. The result is blood seeping into the brain tissue, causing damage to brain cells. The most common causes of haemorrhagic stroke are high blood pressure and brain aneurysms. An aneurysm is an abnormal dilatation in the blood vessel wall.
What are the symptoms of stroke?
The most common symptoms of a stroke are:
- Weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg on one side of the body.
- Loss of vision or dimming (like a curtain falling) in one or both eyes.
- Loss of speech, difficulty talking, or understanding what others are saying.
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
- Loss of balance or unstable walking, usually combined with another symptom.
What should I do if I have symptoms of a stroke?
Call 999 immediately if you or someone you know has symptoms of a stroke. Stroke is a medical emergency. Immediate treatment can save your life or increase your chances of a full recovery.
Are strokes preventable?
Up to 50% of all strokes are preventable. Many risk factors can be controlled before they cause problems.
Controllable risk factors Include:
- High blood pressure
- Atrial fibrillation
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- High cholesterol
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Being overweight
- Existing carotid and/or coronary artery disease
Uncontrollable Risk Factors:
- Age (over 65)
- Race (Black people and people of South Asian origin are at increased risk)
- Family history of stroke
Your doctor can evaluate your risk of stroke and help you control your risk factors. Sometimes, people experience warning signs before a stroke occurs. These are called transient ischaemic attacks (also called TIA or "mini-stroke") and are short, brief episodes of the stroke symptoms listed above. Some people have no symptoms warning them prior to a stroke or symptoms are so mild they are not noticeable. Regular check-ups are important in identifying problems before they become serious. Report any symptoms or risk factors to your doctor.