Tuesday 16 July 2019

Explainer: What is a stroke?

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Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Former UK deputy prime minister John Prescott is being treated in hospital after suffering a stroke.

Each year, approximately 10,000 Irish people have a stroke and around 2,000 die – more deaths than breast cancer, prostate cancer and bowel cancer combined.

The Irish Heart Foundation reports that an estimated 30,000 people are living in the community with disabilities as a result of a stroke. This makes stroke the third biggest cause of death in Ireland and the biggest cause of acquired disability.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel, which is carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain, bursts or is blocked by a clot.

What are the main causes of a stroke?

Getting older is a major risk factor for a stroke, but lifestyle conditions - such as smoking and drinking too much - also push up the risk.

What happens during a stroke?

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel, which is carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain, bursts or is blocked by a clot. This causes an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain. This can damage or destroy brain cells which will affect body functions.

What are the warning signs of a stroke?

Stroke symptoms include: Numbness, weakness, or paralysis on one side of the body; Slurred speech, difficulty thinking of words or understanding other people; Confusion; Sudden blurred vision or sight loss; Being unsteady on your feet; Severe headache; A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, which results in the death of brain cells.

When stroke strikes, act F.A.S.T.

A simple test can help you recognise if someone has had a stroke:

Facial weakness – can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?

Arm weakness – can the person raise both arms?

Speech problems – can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?

Time – call 999 for an ambulance if you spot any one of these signs.

For more information check out the Irish Heart Foundation's website

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