1. ITV Report

Men at Risk: Stroke

The brain scan of a stroke victim. The darker areas show where the blood was cut off. Photo: ITV West

Every five minutes someone suffers a stroke in the UK. And it's men who are more likely to have a stroke than women.The brain damage caused by strokes means that they are the largest cause of adult disability in the UK.

Strokes are caused when part of the brain's blood supply is cut off, killing brain cells Credit: ITV West

A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, brain cells begin to die which can lead to brain damage and in severe cases, death.

There are basically two types of strokes, the one that most people think about is a bleed into the brain but actually that's much less common than a blockage of a blood vessel up to the brain, that's called a cerebral infarction and that accounts for about 80% of our patients.

– Dr Neil Baldwin, Consultant Stroke Physician, Frenchay Hospital

Those most at risk are generally people over 65, though a quarter of victims are younger, Smoking, being overweight, a lack of exercise and a poor diet are also risk factors. Having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, an irregular heartbeat or diabetes also increase your chances of suffering a stroke.

Recognising the signs and symptoms of a stroke: This varies from person to person but usually begins suddenly. Different parts of the brain control different parts of the body and symptoms will depend on the part of the brain affected and extent of damage.

The main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word Fast:

  • FACE: the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye may have drooped
  • ARMS: the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift one or both arms and keep them there because of arm weakness or numbness
  • SPEECH: their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake
  • TIME: it is time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms

We have treatments that are effective but they have to be delivered to the patient very very quickly within four to five hours. Beyond that point the brain is already damaged too much.

– Dr Neil Baldwin, Consultant Stroke Physician, Frenchay Hospital
Dan Prosser from Frome had a stroke at 49. Regular exercise and other lifestyle changes reduce the risk Credit: ITV West

Most strokes are preventable. Regular check ups with your GP, eating a healthy diet, taking regular exercise, drinking alcohol in moderation and not smoking can all dramatically reduce your risk of suffering one. Lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol levels with medication also lowers the risk of stroke substantially. For more information about strokes: contact The Stroke Association or the NHS website

And you can watch the full report by Rebecca Broxton here:

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