With more than 100,000 people in the UK suffering a stroke each year, it is the fourth leading cause of death across the country.
This is why NHS chiefs across Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire support Action on Stroke Month (May 1-31), to make sure local residents are aware of the symptoms of stroke, as well as the treatments currently available for the condition.
A stroke can also be referred to as a brain attack, which occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. If you see or experience symptoms of a stroke, ring 999 immediately.
The key symptoms of stroke are as follows:
• Face – the person may be unable to smile and their face may have dropped to one side
• Arms – the person may be unable to lift both of their arms
• Speech – their speech may be slurred
Although stroke is a condition that is often associated with older people, it can also affect children and babies. According to the Stroke Association, childhood stroke affects around five out of every 100,000 children a year in the UK.
Treatments for stroke have improved significantly over recent years but time is of the essence – the sooner the problem is diagnosed, the better the person’s outcome is likely to be.
There are several different types of stroke which mean treatments vary for each case. Medication is used to dissolve blood clots, reduce cholesterol levels and reduce blood pressure.
In some cases, procedures or even surgery will be necessary to remove blood clots or treat brain swelling.
There have also been improvements in stroke rehabilitation technology. Stroke survivors are able to access video games tailor-made for them, which help to stimulate their brain and body simultaneously.
Robotic exoskeletons, which are designed to attach directly to the affected part of a patient’s body, help to enable movement. Over time the patient’s muscles will gradually gain more control as a result of using them.
Dr John Randall, clinical lead for long term conditions at Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The treatment of stroke has improved dramatically over recent years. Stroke recovery and rehabilitation tools have also come a long way. From video chats with doctors to interactive video games, there are a number of new techniques to help patients on the road to recovery.”
For more information on the symptoms of stroke visit the NHS Choices website or the Stroke Association website.
If you, or someone you know, are experiencing symptoms of stroke, call 999 immediately.