What is stroke?

A stroke is a brain attack which happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off.

There are two main types of stroke:

Around 85% of strokes are ischaemic.  An ischaemic stroke is caused by a blockage in an artery or blood vessel in the brain.  These blockages can be caused by a blood clot or a build-up of fatty deposits in your arteries and vessels.  When your brain is deprived of blood, it is starved of oxygen and nutrients which causes damage to your brain cells.

Around 15% of strokes are haemorrhagic.  Haemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel bursts in your brain.  This causes bleeding, swelling and pressure which damages your brain cells.

How many people are affected by Stroke?

Latest stats from the Stroke Association show there is around 1 stroke every 5 minutes in the UK.  And following a stroke, two thirds of survivors will leave hospital with a disability.

A transient ischaemic attack (TIA), also called a “mini-stroke”, happens when the blood flow to part of the brain stops temporarily. TIAs can give the same symptoms of stroke. But unlike a full stroke the symptoms usually last less than 24 hours before disappearing.

The damage caused by stroke can have different effects on different people.  A stroke can affect the way your body physically works, as well as changes in your mood, how you think, feel and communicate.

The most effective way to prevent suffering stroke is through maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It’s also important to identify and treat any underlying conditions that could be a risk factor.  Lifestyle factors which increase your risk of stroke include smoking, heavy drinking, a lack of exercise and a high fat diet.  Health conditions which increase your stroke risk include high cholesterol, high blood pressure (the main risk factor for stroke), heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Help assess your risk with our Heart Disease & Stroke Assessment.