1 in 6 people in this country will have a stroke in their lifetime.

May is annual stroke awareness month. Over the next 4 weeks we will be sharing a number of blogs to help draw attention to this important subject and spread the word about various aspects of one of the leading causes of death and disability in the UK.

On week 1, we start by asking what is stroke? What are the causes and signs of stroke?

What is Stroke?

Put simply, stroke is a medical condition where poor blood flow causes cells in the brain to die. There are two main types:

1. Blood supply to the brain is stopped because of a blood clot, known as an ischaemic stroke.

2. Blood vessel supplying blood to the brain bursts, known as a haemorrhagic stroke.

There are also “mini-strokes”, known as Transient Ischaemic Attacks (TIAs). This is a temporary blockage of the blood supply to the brain where the symptoms last for a short period of time.

What are the Causes of Stroke?

Ischaemic strokes are the most common type and typically the blood clot which blocks the blood supply will form in arteries which have narrowed or become blocked over time by fatty deposits. This process can be accelerated by the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)

Haemorrhagic strokes are mainly caused by high blood pressure which can damage arteries and cause them to split and bleed into and around the brain. The risk of high blood pressure can be increased by the following:

  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress
  • Obesity
  • Excessive alcohol intake

Fortunately, most of these causes can be modified by a change in lifestyle allowing the risk of stroke to be reduced.

Signs of Stroke

No doubt we’ve all seen the television awareness campaign explaining the main symptoms of stroke, known as the FAST test:

Face: Has the face fallen on one side? Can they smile?

Arms: Can they raise both arms and keep them there?

Speech problems: Is their speech slurred or garbled or can they speak at all? Can the person understand what you are saying?

Time: If you see any of these signs call 999 immediately.

It’s estimated 1.9 million brain cells are lost for every minute a stroke is left untreated. Stroke is a medical emergency which can lead to permanent disability or death so it’s vital the signs are recognised and 999 is called straight away even if only one of these symptoms develops.

Freeths Solicitors - How we can help

As clinical negligence lawyers we represent people who have suffered avoidable disability due to failures of medical care and delayed or inappropriate treatment. We know how difficult life can be for those who have suffered a stroke and for their families. We are able to assist by ensuring they have access to the services they require, have the funds to pay for private care allowing them to live their lives as comfortably as they possibly can and are compensated for the harm. We also represent the families of those who have sadly died in such circumstances.

Freeths Clinical Negligence Solicitors have a national reputation for providing first class advice on all medical claims. If you are concerned about the medical care you or a loved one has received, please contact one of our national team free:-

Adrian Denton, Solicitor on 0845 166 6258 / 0115 936 9369 or adrian.denton@freeths.co.uk

Jane Williams, Partner on 0845 272 5724 or jane.williams@freeths.co.uk

Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford) 0186 578 1019 or carolyn.lowe@freeths.co.uk

Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby) on 0845 274 6830 or karen.reynolds@freeths.co.uk

For further information please also visit our website at: http://www.freeths.co.uk/legal-services/individuals/clinical-negligence/