Managing the Risk of Stroke
A stroke occurs when the supply of blood to the brain is suddenly disrupted. Without blood flow, the brain is starved of oxygen and cells quickly die.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death and one of the leading causes of disability amongst adults in Australia. According to the Australian Stroke Foundation 1 in 6 people will have a stroke.
The lack of blood to the brain can cause either the artery to become blocked (ischaemic stroke) or to burst (haemorrhagic stroke). Ischaemic stroke is more common and occurs when a clot forms somewhere in the body, most commonly in the heart. When the clot reaches the brain it gets stuck in one of the blood vessels, cutting off the blood supply to that part of the brain. A build up of cholesterol and other fatty material known as plaque along artery walls, often in the neck, can also preventing blood getting through causing an ischaemic stroke.
Reduce the risk of having a stroke
There are stroke risk factors over which we have no control. They include, age, the older you are the greater the risk; gender, stroke is more common for men, and family history.
But, when it comes to lifestyle risks, it’s a different story. Actions you take can have a real impact. Eliminating or controlling things such as high blood pressure or cholesterol, cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and obesity, which are all major risk factors, can lessen the likelihood of a stroke.
Medical risk factors, which include having had a previous stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA), and conditions such as diabetes, fibromuscular dysplasia and atrial fibrillation, all increase the risk of stroke. But again, it is possible to reduce or manage the risk, this time with medication, surgery, or a combination of the two.
For example, patients with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm caused by quivering or fluttering in the top chambers of the heart, are at a high risk of developing the blood clots that lead to stroke. Surgeons at Epworth have recently performed a new procedure using a titanium clip to seal off the part of the heart where these clots most commonly form, with encouraging results.
Minimise the damage if stroke occurs
The moments after a stroke occurs are critical. The sooner you get help, the less likely you'll have serious, lasting problems and the better your chance of recovery. Even minutes can make a difference.
The signs or symptoms of a stroke will depend on which part of the brain the damage occurs, but typical symptoms will include:
• Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side
• Confusion or trouble understanding other people
• Trouble speaking
• Trouble seeing with one or both eyes
• Trouble walking or staying balanced or coordinated
• Severe headache that comes on for no reason
The FAST test is a quick way to check someone for symptoms:
Face: Smile! (Does one side of their face droop?)
Arms: Raise both arms. (Is one higher than the other? Do they have a hard time holding one up?)
Speech: Repeat a short, simple sentence, like "Mary had a little lamb." (Do they slur their words? Is it hard to understand them?)
Time: If any of these are "yes," go straight to hospital. CALL 000.
You will need to be taken to an Emergency Department.
The emergency department assesses & treats people with serious injuries as well as those in need of emergency treatment.
Getting an x-ray is not the frightening concept it once might have been. We know so much about all types of scans and the potential hazards and how to avoid them, and technology is rapidly advancing. Some hospitals even boast an EOS now, which allows them to complete scans with 6-9 times less radiation than typical x-rays.
It’s rarely contested that being around nature has benefits for your health. It ensures you’re spending more time outdoors, gives you a sense of connectedness with the world, and has been found to lower stress and reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety. The best news is that even in the city there are many places to get in touch with nature. Here are five of them:
Twenty-five weary participants have just returned home after completing the final section of the Spanish Camino de Compostela.
Walking 115km over six days they were blessed with perfect weather, some authentic historic farmhouse accommodation and knowledgeable guides.
It’s easy for anyone who has travelled overseas and comes home to Australia to realise how fortunate we are when it comes to affordable and readily available fresh, wholesome food.