Stroke in the Elderly
A stroke is a serious life-threatening medical condition that happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off.
What is a stroke?
A stroke is a serious life-threatening medical condition that happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. There two types of stroke - ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke.
Causes and types of stroke
The brain needs oxygen and nutrients ,which are provided by the blood supply, to function properly. If the blood supply is restricted or stopped the brain cannot function. There are two different types of stroke:
- Ischaemic stroke - this is where a blood clot blocks the blood flow - these are the most common, accounting for 85% of all strokes
- Haemorrhagic stroke - this is where a weakened blood vessel e.g. an aneurysm bursts causing a bleed in the brain
There are some factors which can increase the risk of suffering a stroke:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High cholesterol
- Irregular heart beat (atrial fibrillation)
The risk of having a stroke increases with age in general but young people can also suffer a stroke.
Symptoms of a stroke
The main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word FAST:
- Face – the face may have dropped on 1 side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
- Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in 1 arm.
- Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you're saying to them.
- Time – it's time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
Treatment really depends on the type of stroke and the areas of the brain that is affected. Often, strokes can be treated with medication including those to dissolve blood clots and reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. In some cases, surgical procedures may be required to treat a stoke, reduce swelling of the brain and reduce the risk of further bleeding.
Keeping your heart healthy involves maintaining an active lifestyle and identifying any potentially dangerous heart problems before they become more severe.