Knowledge of risk factors for stroke and taking appropriate measures to counter act these can play an important role in both primary and secondary prevention of stroke.

A stroke occurs when areas of the brain are damaged as a result of a disruption in blood supply to the brain.


Blood supply can be disrupted in two ways:

  1. Blockage (thrombosis/embolism): a blood clot, or atherosclerotic plaque (fatty build up) blocks the arteries to the brain cutting off blood supply.

  2. Bleed (hemorrhage): the blood vessel bursts causing bleeding into the brain tissue.


Each of the following risk factors can increase your chance of a stroke:

Medical Risk Factors:

- Hypertension

- Diabetes Mellitus (diabetes)

- High blood Cholesterol

Current Heart Disease

- Human Immune deficiency Virus (HIV)

Lifestyle factors:

- Smoking

- Being overweight

- Physical inactivity

- Poor diet

- Excessive alcohol consumption.

- Drug abuse

Act F.A.S.T. - Can you Identify a Stroke?

Courtesy of St. David's HealthCare.

If you suspect someone is having a stroke get them to hospital as soon as possible, and preferably to a hospital with a stroke unit, because in certain cases, strokes can be reversed if the blood flow to the brain is restored before the brain tissue dies. It may be possible to reduce /remove a clot by means of medical or surgical procedures.

In South Africa, contact your nearest hospital in case of emergency or dial 112 from a cellphone. 

A stroke can result in one or more of the following impairments:
  • Paralysis or weakness of limbs

  • Sensory disturbances

  • Poor balance

  • Incontinence

  • Language problems (Receptive and Expressive Aphasia)

  • Speech disorders (Dysarthria and Apraxia)

  • Swallowing problems

  • Cognitive and perceptual impairments

  • Visual impairments

Where can I get more information about stroke and treatment options: 
  • Your doctor

  • Hospitals

  • Clinics /Community Health Centres in your area

  • Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa

  • The Helderberg Stroke Support Group (A detailed resource list of services available to stroke survivors in the Helderberg Basin (Somerset West /Strand. Western Cape. South Africa) can be obtained from the office. 


The Helderberg Stroke Support Group (HSSG) has been assisting stroke survivors and their families in the Helderberg Basin for twenty five years. The organization is registered as a Non Profit Organization and has been approved as a public benefit organization.

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