STROKE – WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR & WHAT TO DO TO HELP SAVE A LIFE
Stroke is the second most common cause of death in Ghana, killing over 18,000 people in 2012 alone (WHO statistics). It is therefore important to be aware of the various risk factors associated with stroke in order to maintain a healthy, disease-free lifestyle and to recognize when someone around you may be having a stroke.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, either due to a blood clot blocking one of the arteries supplying blood to the brain (~85% of cases) or because of a weak blood vessel in the brain that has burst (~15% of cases).
A stroke is a serious medical emergency, requiring immediate medical attention at a hospital. The quicker a stroke victim receives medical attention, the less severe the damage is to the brain. If you suspect that someone is having a stroke, you should call an ambulance straight away.
The signs and symptoms of someone having a stroke can be remembered by using the “FAST” mnemonic as follows:
Face – The person’s face, including their eyes and mouth, may have dropped on one side, so that if they try to smile only half of their face is able to do so.
Arms – The person may feel weak or numb in one arm and may not be able to hold both arms out in front of them as a result.
Speech – The person’s speech may be slurred, or they may not be able to talk at all, despite being awake
Time – As soon as you see any of these symptoms, call for an ambulance as soon as possible. The quicker they receive treatment, the less damage they will have to their brain.
People with existing cardiovascular disease are at a higher risk on average of having a stroke, other risk factors include:
1. High blood pressure
3. Excessive alcohol consumption
4. Poor diet
5. Uncontrolled diabetes
6. Lack of physical activity
8. High blood cholesterol
Hence, to lower your risk of stroke, you can make sure to lead a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet.
By Dr. Kristy Brain