Stroke is the largest cause of disability in the UK, and third most common cause of death (after heart disease and cancer). Each year 110,000 people in the UK have a first stroke, and about 30,000 have a recurrent stroke. A stroke causes damage to the brain and is due to either a blood clot in the brain (called an ischaemic stroke) or bleeding in the brain (called haemorrhagic stroke). Outcome following a stroke depends on several factors such as the part of the brain affected, the extent of brain damage and how quickly treatment is given. Both a stroke and a mini-stroke (called a TIA) are medical emergencies and need immediate medical attention. If you develop any of the following, you should dial 999 immediately (remember FAST):

F – Facial weakness. Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
A – Arm weakness. Can the person raise both arms?
S – Speech disturbance. Can the person speak clearly? Can they understand you?
T РTime to call 999 immediately if you or a person have any of the above symptoms.

There are several things that put you at higher risk of having a stroke, but there are also lots of things that you can do to reduce your risk. These include:

  • Stopping smoking – If you would like help with this, please let us know as we can help you do this.
  • Eating a healthy low fat diet and taking regular exercise at least three times a week.
  • Keeping your weight within a normal level.
  • Drinking alcohol within the recommended limits (21 units of alcohol per week for men, and 14 units of alcohol per week for women).

If you have had a TIA or stroke in the past, you will be invited by letter for an annual review with the Practice Nurse. At this check, the Practice Nurse will:

  • Discuss your symptoms and the impact your symptoms are having on you
  • Review your medications, and any side effects that you have
  • Check your weight, height and blood pressure
  • Take blood samples to check your kidney function, blood count, cholesterol level and sugar level
  • Address any risk factors for strokes outlined above, and help you reduce these
  • Provide help with stopping smoking if applicable
  • Offer you the annual Flu vaccine
  • Perform a screening test for depression as someone patients after a stroke develop low mood