It’s the fourth largest natural cause of death in the country, and 29 October is World Stroke Day, but just what are stroke warning signs?
It’s shocking that every day 360 people have a stroke. Out of those, 110 people die and 90 are left with a life-changing disability.
What’s more, it’s a misconception that stroke affects elderly people only. Under the right conditions, a stroke can affect anyone.
If you’re wondering what actually happens when someone has a stroke, what you should do if a loved one has a stroke in front of you and what you can do to reduce your stroke risk, read on…
What is a stroke and what causes it?
A stroke is a brain attack. It happens when the blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off.
It can be caused by a blockage or a bleed. Without blood, brain cells can be damaged or die. This damage can have different effects depending on where it happens in the brain. It can affect the body, mobility and speech, as well as how patients think and feel.
The type of disability caused by a stroke depends on the extent of brain damage and what part of the brain is damaged.
It’s been proven that time lost is brain lost and every minute that treatment is delayed, more of your brain is damaged.
Act FAST to reverse the effects of a stroke
“The amazing reality is that the vast majority of strokes are preventable. Educating people about stroke has all sorts of positive ramifications. While prevention tops the list, another key is teaching the warning signs and to react immediately,” says Angels Initiative project lead, Carica Combrink.
It is important to make yourself, your family and friends aware of the signs of stroke as minutes matter when treating stroke.
Strokes can be reversed if blood flow to the brain is restored. This needs to be done at an appropriately equipped medical facility – so know where the nearest one to you is located and how to get to it should you need to. Planning for an emergency can make all the difference.
What are the warning signs?
Angels Initiative stroke campaigns use a simple acronym – F.A.S.T – to teach people how to spot a stroke.
The warning signs of stroke are (F) face drooping, (A) arm drifting and (S) speech slurred, and seeing any of those means it is (T) time get to an emergency unit fast.
How to prevent strokes
While it is important to talk about early identification and treatment, it is just as important to talk about prevention.
Many strokes – perhaps the majority of them – are preventable. Here’s how:
- Know your personal risk factors for stroke, including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, elevated cholesterol and atrial fibrillation.
- Control or manage these conditions by working with your healthcare providers.
- Aim to exercise or engage in physical activity daily.
- Choose a healthy diet.
- Connor M & Bryer A (2006) Stroke in South Africa, Chronic Diseases of Lifestyle in South Africa since 1995 – 2005, MRC Technical Report.
- Maredza A. et al (2015). Disease burden of stroke in rural South Africa: an estimate of incidence, mortality and disability adjusted life years. BMC Neurology, 15:54
- Bertram MY et al. (2013) The disability adjusted life years due to stroke in South Africa in 2008. Int J Stroke
While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.