Strokes affect around 100,000 people every year in the UK, which amounts to one happening approximately every 5 minutes. Although there are some risk factors that increase your chances of having a stroke – such as lifestyle factors, family and medical history, and your ethnicity – they can happen to anyone, any age, at any time, often without warning.
Stroke Awareness Month, which falls in May, aims to raise money for the Stroke Association to fund research into how to prevent strokes and treat those affected.
Read on to find out how to spot the signs of a stroke and what the long-term effects are. If you have a loved one who needs homecare in Blackburn following a stroke, our friendly team is here for you.
What is a stroke?
A stroke is a sudden and serious condition that happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off. It can be caused by a blood clot blocking the flow of blood to your brain, or a burst blood vessel. When the brain is starved of oxygen and nutrients, cells start to die, which causes the rapid onset of a number of symptoms.
What to do if someone is having a stroke
Remembering the mnemonic FAST can help you recognise the main symptoms of a stroke.
Facial weakness – when the person’s mouth, eye, or one side of their face is drooping
Arm weakness – the person is unable to raise their arms
Speech problems – their speech is slurred and they may have trouble understanding you
Time to call 999 if you notice these symptoms. The sooner you call an ambulance, the better chance the person has of recovery.
Other symptoms to look out for include sudden onset of:
- loss of strength or numbness on one side of the body, including legs, hands or feet
- blurred vision or sight loss
- difficulty swallowing
- severe headache
- memory loss or confusion
- dizziness or loss of balance
- a fall or loss of consciousness.
The long-term effects of stroke
It’s possible to recover from a stroke, although people are often left with a long-term disability.
Weakness, clumsiness or paralysis down one side of your body are among the most common long-term symptoms of a stroke, along with a language disorder known as aphasia, which is characterised by problems speaking, understanding others, reading and writing.
Other effects include difficulty controlling your bladder, balance issues, difficulty swallowing, fatigue, memory and vision issues. Some people may also experience a loss of sensation, such as touch, while others may be more sensitive to sound or light.
Up to two million brain cells die every minute that the flow of blood is interrupted, and many more cells can be damaged following a stroke. While dead cells can’t start working again, in some cases, different parts of the brain can learn to take over from the damaged areas.
Most recovery tends to happen in the first few months after a stroke, but some people recover over a few years.
It’s possible to have a good quality of life following a stroke with rehabilitation, the right level of support, and a positive mindset.
Our carers can support people recovering or who have developed more complex care needs after a stroke. They’re also trained to spot the warning signs of a stroke and to call 999 immediately.
We work closely with the Stroke Association to ensure training is comprehensive and up to date.
How you can get involved
If you’d like to support the Stroke Association, you can download a fundraising pack here with all the information you need to raise money and awareness for the cause.
If you have a loved one who has had a stroke and needs support or companionship at home, call our friendly team on 01254 504905 to find out how we can help.