A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is disrupted, most frequently by a clot in an artery supplying blood to the brain (ischemic stroke), and sometimes by hemorrhage when a burst vessel causes blood to leak into the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).
Although older age is a risk factor for stroke, up to 15% of all strokes occur in adults younger than 50, and 1 in 4 adults over the age of 25 will have a stroke in their lifetime.
The BEFAST acronym can be used to detect stroke. B– Balance loss, E– Eye (vision) loss, F– Facial drooping, A– Arm/leg weakness, S– Speech difficulties and T– Time to call emergency services.
Time is brain. When someone has a stroke, every second counts. Every 1 minute after having a stroke, 2 million neurons in the brain are lost (an equivalent 12 kilometre fibre length). The longer the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen, the more severe the damage and the higher the likelihood of death or disability. In ischemic stroke, clot-dissolving drugs can restore the blood supply; but to be effective they must be administered in less than 4.5 hours after stroke onset.
High blood pressure, abnormal levels of cholesterol, central obesity, diabetes, and unhealthy diets are the biggest risk factors for having a stroke among Nigerians. Medical treatment of these risk factors and a healthy lifestyle can prevent up to 80% of strokes. Eating a healthy diet (particularly rich in green leafy vegetables), exercising regularly, and avoiding smoking and too much alcohol will significantly reduce your stroke risk.