Stroke is a major cause of disability in England and the UK and it has been shown to re-occur in 30% of cases. In England alone it is estimated that one in six people will have a stroke in their lifetime (Public Health England 2016). Previously, strokes were associated with those aged over 70, but there has recently been a spike in stroke occurrences in people between the ages of 40 and 69. There have even been cases in much younger people.
The promising news is that, due to treatment, survival and recovery rates have significantly improved, and national campaigns have helped by highlighting the common signs.
- Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
- Arms – can they raise both their arms and keep them there?
- Speech – is their speech slurred?
- Time – to call 999
Early intervention is the key in every condition, so it is always good to remember ‘‘the early bird catches the worm’’. At the same time, Prevention Always Surpasses Cure. Accessing emergency care services as fast as possible can facilitate a speedy diagnosis as well as management, which has been shown to reduce the degree of disability and improve chances of recovery.
Coping at home following discharge from hospital can be very challenging for stroke sufferers due to the impact on their physical and mental wellbeing. Depending on the severity of the stroke, patients may need to re-learn key daily life skills and adapt to living with the condition.
Excessive stress, obesity, a cholesterol-rich diet, alcohol and inactivity, among other factors, have been associated with stroke.
After leaving the hospital, exercise management is crucial not only to regaining their mobility but also to helping reduce pain, stress levels, risk of depression and anxiety as well as to feeling hopeful and involved in society. This is particularly important as stroke can cause sufferers to despair, thereby diminishing their chances of rehabilitation.
I have had the opportunity to work in acute and community stroke units as well as privately and the experience has been very rewarding.
See my stroke patient’s testimonial below: