Stroke: All you need to know

-What is a stroke?

Stroke is the acute onset of focal or global neurological deficit, caused by interruption of blood supply to the brain or bleeding into brain tissue. According to the World Stroke Organisation, 1 in 6 people will have a stroke in their lifetime. Of these, a third will survive, a third will end up with severe disability and another third will die.

The incidence of stroke is increasing worldwide. Stroke is now the second leading cause of death and disability globally. Stroke is affecting more women and younger people of working age across the world. 152,000 people have a stroke each year in UK despite having organised stroke care, a national stroke strategy and register. In Nigeria up to 195,000 people are reported to suffer a stroke each year. In Nigeria, there is no organised stroke care, no national stroke strategy or register.

- What are the danger signs before someone gets a stroke?

Transient ischemic attack (TIA) is the name for a mini or mild stroke. This is a warning sign of impeding major stroke. People who have a mild stroke are at increased risk of having a major stroke within the year. They are the best people to see and treat by doctors to identify why they have had this stroke and what can be done to prevent a recurrent stroke.

It is important to recognize and diagnose a patient with TIA. Confusion, blurring of vision, speech impairment, difficulty walking and weakness of an arm or a leg are possible pointers to impending major stroke.

- How can people avoid getting stroke?

Identifying patients with hypertension, diabetes, obesity, smokers, sickle cell patients and those with a strong family history of stroke is very important. These people are at risk of stroke and so must change their lifestyles or go on medications to prevent stroke.

Hypertension is the single most important cause of stroke and the one, which is eminently reducible by treatment. It has been estimated that between 52-70% of stroke patients have hypertension. Up to 60% of patients have undiagnosed high blood pressure (BP) prior to presentation. Reduction of high blood pressure substantially reduces the stroke risk. It is the duty of every clinician or nurse to check the BP of all adults they are reviewing for any health problem.

- How can stroke be treated first hand before a patient is taken to the hospital?

Prevention is important. Next to that is early presentation to hospital. ‘Brain attack’ is a term used to emphasize the need for URGENT action. Studies have shown that delays in presentation are caused mostly by lack of awareness of stroke. Anyone who have a stroke MUST be taken to hospital immediately because stroke is a MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

- There are so much myths surrounding strokes in developing countries, how true are these?

Stroke is NOT caused by an evil spirit, an arrow or punishment from God, witches and witch craft, an evil wife or mother-in-law, or by someone who hates you. Any belief in one of these myths is a major impediment to early intervention following a stroke. We must keep emphasizing that stroke is a 'brain attack' due to lack of blood going to the brain. Stroke occurs in people with risk factors for stroke who have not looked after their health.

- How can government dispel this believe?

Public awareness programs are important. Information about stroke should be made widely available to the public. The local press, celebrities and television personalities should be educated on the risks of stroke and the importance of wide public awareness. Stroke issues should be introduced in schools, churches, mosques, plays on television, in the theatre and brought to national attention.

Stroke Action is advocating and campaigning for better awareness and support for stroke survivors and their carers in UK and Nigeria. Stroke Action is a market leader in Community based stroke care and support. We partner with individuals, groups, communities and agencies to promote health and well-being for stroke survivors, carers of stroke survivors and people at risk of strokes in order to both prevent strokes, save lives and help people affected by strokes to 'cope with life after a stroke'.

You can help us by:

  • Making a donation to Stroke Action. You can do this from the DONATE button on this website 
  • Supporting and sponsoring Stroke Action’s ‘STROKE OUTREACH PROGRAMS’
  • Investing ’seed finance’ for capacity building to establish ‘Life After Stroke’ Centres and Stroke Support Groups across UK and Nigeria,
  • Supporting the sustainability of the service, and subsequent efforts to reduce the incidence of stroke.

We need your help physically, morally and financially to reduce the incidence of stroke in UK and Nigeria. If you want to be a Stroke Ambassador or a Stroke Champion please send your request through the CONTACT section on this website. You can also call us:

UK: +44 (0) 7946 622 753 or +44 (0) 208 807 8023 

NIG: +234 (0) 818 999 9902 or +234 (0) 818 999 9901