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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. 

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