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Stroke is the third most common cause of death after heart disease and cancer. While you may be aware of the symptoms of a heart attack and the importance of calling 999 if you suspect one, do you know that a stroke is the equivalent of a ‘brain attack’ and so requires prompt action too?
Spot the signs of a stroke happening
Here we explain how to recognise the symptoms and what to do if you think someone is having a stroke. We also look the causes of a stroke, treatment and support available to help you after a stroke and suggest where you can go for more specialist information and support.
You can also learn more about how your lifestyle affects your chance of having a stroke and steps to take to reduce your risk of having one.
A stroke is caused when the blood supply to your brain is cut off or reduced. As a result, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and other nutrients in the blood and this quickly causes damage or death to cells in parts of the brain.
There are two types of stroke:Ischemic stroke – this is caused when a blood clot blocks a main artery in your brain. Around 17 out of 20 strokes are of this type.
Haemorrhagic stroke – this is caused when a weakened artery in your brain bursts. This allows blood to seep out and press on your brain. It also prevents blood and oxygen reaching other parts of the brain.
The effects of a stroke depend on:
A ‘mini’ stroke or to use its medical term - transient ischemic attack (TIA) has similar symptoms to a stroke but they may last only a few minutes or hours and disappear completely within 24 hours. However don’t ignore this, as it may be a warning sign of a more serious stroke to come.
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