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Quiz: What do you know about stroke?

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You can have a stroke without knowing you've had one.

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You can have a stroke without knowing you've had one.

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'Silent strokes' are technically called a covert brain infarction. They happen when blood flow to a part of the brain is cut off, causing damage. They're called 'silent' because there may only be subtle, unnoticeable effects on motor and cognitive functions like speech. Many people only find out they've had one when permanent brain damage is found on a scan that they had for some other reason.

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'Silent strokes' and 'mini-strokes' are the same thing.

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'Silent strokes' and 'mini-strokes' are the same thing.

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Transient ischemic attacks (TIA) are often called 'mini-strokes'. They happen when a clot briefly stops blood getting to part of the brain. They are different from silent strokes and usually pass quickly – lasting a minute on average. Unlike a true stroke, a TIA doesn't cause permanent damage, but temporary symptoms are similar, such as disturbed speech or vision, and numbness in the face, arms and legs. If you have a TIA, it increases your risk of having a full stroke in the future, so make sure you seek medical advice immediately.

If someone is showing signs of a stroke, you should:

If someone is showing signs of a stroke, you should:

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As you won't know whether it's a true stroke or a 'mini-stroke', call 999 immediately if you have any stroke symptoms. A stroke is a serious life-threatening emergency. Your brain is being starved of oxygen, so every second counts.

 

Treatment depends on the type of stroke you have. If it’s caused by a blood clot (ischaemic stroke) you may be given drugs to break it up. Some drugs have to be given immediately after symptoms emerge to save brain cells and prevent permanent damage. Unfortunately, many people don't get to the hospital in time.

If you're often angry, you may be more likely to have a stroke.

If you're often angry, you may be more likely to have a stroke.

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Having a temper and getting angry a lot can trigger narrowing of blood vessels and cause your blood pressure to rise. A study published in the European Heart Journal showed people who are quick-tempered are more than 3 times more likely to have a stroke within 2 hours of an angry episode. They also have more thickening of the neck arteries, which increases the odds of having a stroke. More studies are needed to understand the link between stroke and emotion, but it's worth seeking advice if you have trouble controlling your temper.

You can reverse the damage caused by a stroke.

You can reverse the damage caused by a stroke.

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Dead brain cells can't be revived, but others affected by a stroke may recover when swelling recedes. Rehabilitation can help some people compensate and regain lost skills to varying degrees, but it can't repair the damage. Physiotherapy helps build strength, balance and coordination, while occupational therapy can help improve fine motor skills like writing, using a knife and fork or buttoning up a shirt. Speech therapy helps you improve communication.

 

Some research using stem cell therapy to repair stroke damage has shown some promise, but it's too early to prove its effectiveness.

Bleeding in the brain causes most strokes.

Bleeding in the brain causes most strokes.

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Bleeding in, or around, the brain is known as a haemorrhagic stroke. It happens when a weakened blood vessel bursts. This type of stroke only accounts for about 15% of all strokes, but it's more likely to be fatal.

 

The vast majority of strokes are the ischaemic kind, when a blood clot develops in an artery, or travels from elsewhere in the body to the brain, and obstructs a brain blood vessel.

Which of the following is NOT a sign of stroke?

Which of the following is NOT a sign of stroke?

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Key stroke symptoms can be identified using the acronym 'FAST', which stands for:

  • Face – the face may drop on one side or the mouth or eye may droop
  • Arms – weakness, numbness or inability to move the arms
  • Speech – impaired, garbled or slurred speech
  • Time – get medical attention fast by calling 999

Chest pain is not a sign of stroke, but could indicate a heart attack that also needs urgent medical attention.

You may feel weakness in your left side if a stroke damages the right side of your brain.

You may feel weakness in your left side if a stroke damages the right side of your brain.

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The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa. So, if you experience a sudden change that affects just one side of your body, it's possible you’re having a stroke.

Signs may include:

  • Weakness, numbness or paralysis in an arm or leg
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Blurred vision or sight loss in one eye
  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Confusion, dizziness or balance issues
  • Drooping on one side of the face.

Women who get certain types of migraines are more likely to have a stroke.

Women who get certain types of migraines are more likely to have a stroke.

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Studies show that you are at higher risk of a stroke if you are prone to migraines with auras. The risk is slightly higher in women. It's also higher if:

  • You're under 45
  • You smoke
  • You take the contraceptive pill.

However, the risk is still relatively low. If you have migraines with auras, your GP may advise against taking the pill to reduce your chance of a stroke.

Signs of a stroke depend on what part of the brain loses its blood supply.

Signs of a stroke depend on what part of the brain loses its blood supply.

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If a stroke stops the blood flow to the part of your brain linked to language skills, you may have trouble talking. If it's an area that controls motor skills, you may experience muscle weakness, or trouble moving your arm or a leg after a stroke.

You're more likely to have a stroke if you’re over the age of 65.

You're more likely to have a stroke if you’re over the age of 65.

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You're more likely to have a stroke if you're over the age of 65. In people under 75, men are more likely to have a stroke than women. Other risk factors include:

  • Conditions like atrial fibrillation, diabetes or high blood pressure
  • A family history of stroke
  • If you're from south Asian or African-Caribbean origin.

You can lower your risk of a stroke by:

You can lower your risk of a stroke by:

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Smoking significantly increases your chance of having a stroke, making you 3 times more likely to have one, compared to a non-smoker. If you smoke over 20 cigarettes a day that makes your risk 6 times higher. Smoking releases toxic chemicals into your blood stream that damage cells. It can also affect your cholesterol levels and damage arterial walls leading to narrowed arteries. The good news is that quitting can significantly reduce that risk. Getting plenty of exercise and maintaining a healthy weight help too.

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