A stroke is a serious, life-threatening medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off.Like all organs, the brain needs the oxygen and nutrients provided by blood to function properly. If the supply of blood is restricted or stopped, brain cells begin to die. This can lead to brain injury, disability and possibly death.
There are two main causes of strokes:
- ischaemic – where the blood supply is stopped due to a blood clot (this accounts for 85% of all cases)
- haemorrhagic – where a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts
There is also a related condition known as a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), where the supply of blood to the brain is temporarily interrupted, causing a 'mini-stroke' often lasting between 30 minutes and several hours.
In the UK, strokes are a major health problem. Every year, around 110,000 people have a stroke in England and it is the third largest cause of death, after heart disease and cancer. The brain injuries caused by strokes are a major cause of adult disability in the UK.
Older people are most at risk of having strokes, although they can happen at any age – including in children.
If you are south Asian, African or Caribbean, your risk of stroke is higher. This is partly because of a predisposition (a natural tendency) to developing high blood pressure (hypertension), which can lead to strokes.
Smoking, being overweight, lack of exercise and a poor diet are also risk factors for stroke, as are high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation and diabetes.
NHS Choices, 2015
ARNI Stroke Rehab & Exercise Centre in Wales Neath Port Talbot
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