May is the month for Stroke awareness, as declared by the American Stroke Association month and so we thought to educate you on these five (5) essential facts.

  1. Stroke is what occurs when blood flow to the brain is obstructed (usually by a blood clot) and the cells in the brain begin to die, or when there bleeding in the brain.

It can also be called brain attack.

  1. Stroke has a cause.

It isn’t just a disease that occurs to anyone. There are actual factors that constitute risk that predisposes a person to stroke. Some of these factors are:

  • High blood pressure
  • High salt diet
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Physical inactivity
  • Heavy or binge drinking
  • Use of illicit drugs such as cocaine
  • Cigarette smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Diabetes
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Previous history of stroke
  • Family history of stroke
  • Previous history of heart attack or transient ischaemic attack

  1. Stroke has symptoms. You can actually recognise when a person develops a stroke.

Usually one side of the body is affected. i.e the part of the body controlled by the part of the brain affected. Did you get that? The brain controls all functions of the body.  If blood flow ceases in a particular part of the brain,                the parts of the body it controls, are affected. You may notice any or all of the following.

  • numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • trouble with walking; there may be dizziness or loss of balance
  • Unexpected severe headache with no known cause


  1. Stroke is a medical emergency.

If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned, you have to present at a hospital very fast to begin treatment. There are important therapies to stop a stroke while it is happening by quickly dissolving the blood clot or by   stopping the bleeding. The earlier you present at a hospital, the easier the recovery.

  1. Air ambulances and stroke

Stroke patients usually present in unconscious states and would require ICU care. The challenge here is that there are very few centres with ICU facilities and where available, capacity is limited. Stroke victims may be          paralysed and require specialist care in a stroke centre which may be many hours away, or (in some African countries), in a completely different country. Air ambulances are therefore essential in transporting stroke patients from low level of care to centres where they can receive intensive care which they very much need.

Read Blood pressure and lifestyle and When the heart stopsfor more education.

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