We’re marking Stroke Awareness Month 2022 with a reminder of some of the hidden effects from our Health writer Colleen Shannon.
Around one in five women and one in six men will have a stroke at some time in their lives. It’s a sobering fact. The good news is that recognition and fast treatment are saving lives, and more people now survive.
However, nearly two-thirds of stroke survivors leave hospital with some type of disability. It’s important for all of us to understand how folk are affected and how we can support their recovery and independence. Some of these effects may be quite visible, but others are not immediately obvious, while being just as challenging.
These facts and figures come from the Stroke Association. I asked Sian McClure, Head of Stroke Information Services, to tell us more about the hidden effects of stroke.
What Happens During A Stroke
First of all, she explained what happens during a stroke. A stroke is a brain attack. The blood supply to part of your brain is cut off, and the affected brain cells die. Every individual is affected differently, and it depends on what part of the brain has been hurt. And how big the area of damage is.
Because the brain is your control centre, damage can affect the way your body works as well as your thinking, emotions and personality. While some effects of a stroke may be obvious, problems with memory and thinking, emotional changes and fatigue can also turn people’s lives upside down and are as significant as the physical effects.
After a stroke, about a third of people have problems with speaking, reading, writing and understanding what other people say. They may also have difficulties with walking, balance, vision, dressing and swallowing.
In the charity’s survey, outlined in their report “Lived Experience Of Stroke”, nine in ten stroke survivors also said they experienced problems with memory or concentration. Three in four stroke survivors said they had changes in their mental health, including anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts.
Stroke Awareness Month
“Recovery from a stroke is tough, but with the right specialist support and a ton of courage and determination, the brain can adapt. Months and years after a stroke, it’s possible to make a recovery,” Sian says.
The Stroke Association offers a series of useful guides on how to cope with problems such as communication difficulties, emotional changes and fatigue. Their Stroke Helpline is for anyone affected by a stroke, including family, friends and carers. You can phone them on 0303 3033 100 or e-mail email@example.com.
They also encourage anyone affected by stroke to have a look at “My Stroke Guide”. It’s an online community of over 11,000 people who have been affected by stroke. You will find the guide on their website at www.stroke.org.uk along with a wealth of other information. Stroke changes your life in an instant, but it’s important to know that, with the right support, things can – and do – get better over time.
Catch up with more health advice from the “Friend”.