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Stroke is one of the main vascular diseases
A stroke happens when the arteries that supply blood to the brain become blocked or damaged. A stroke is a medical emergency: the faster treatment is given, the better the chance of recovery. If you suspect a stroke, call 999.
Stroke is the main cause of disability in the UK. It's the third most common cause of death (after cancer and coronary heart disease).
We're all at some risk of having a stroke. But strokes can be prevented, through small and long-term changes to your lifestyle. At your NHS Health Check, your risk of stroke will be assessed, and you'll then be given advice and support to help you reduce that risk.
What happens during a stroke?
Blood carries oxygen and nutrients around our body. Every organ in our body needs a constant supply of blood in order to work properly.
Like other arteries, the arteries that supply the brain with blood can become blocked or damaged. This usually happens when fatty deposits in the blood stick to the walls of the arteries. This causes them to become narrower, and can cause blood clots that block the arteries.
When someone has a stoke, the blood supply to the brain is interupted due to blocked or damaged arteries. The brain can’t work properly, causing a range of symptoms.
Only hospital tests can confirm that a stroke has occurred. But the F.A.S.T. test can help you recognise a stroke in another person. This is what to check for:
Stroke: Jim’s Story
Jim Whyte had to give up work after having a stroke 10 years
ago, but in this video he talks about his experiences and
proves that life does go on.
Avoiding a stroke
Some risk factors for a stroke are things that we can’t change about ourselves. You're more likely to have a stroke if:
But most of the risk factors for stroke are things we can change. You're more likely to have a stroke if:
At your NHS Health Check you will have a discussion with your GP (or health professional). This will include a discussion of test results that are relevant to your risk of stroke, such as blood pressure, cholesterol and body mass index (BMI).
Whatever your results, your GP will give you information and advice on a healthy lifestyle, which will help to minimise your risk of stroke and other vascular diseases. If your risk was higher, you may be offered treatments that will help, such as medicines to lower blood pressure. You may also be offered support (free on the NHS) to help you stop smoking or lose weight.
For practical tips and information on weight, a good diet and physical activity, see NHS Choices links on the right of this page.