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What is a stroke?

A Stroke is a sudden disruption of the blood supply of an area of the brain due to a blockage or narrowing of the arteries or bursting (bleeding) of one of the brain vessels. Sometimes a brain haemorrhage can occur inside the brain itself and it is then called a haemorrhagic stroke. During a Stroke the blood supply to an area of the brain diminishes or stops altogether, as a result the functions that are controlled from that part of the brain stop almost immediately. As a rule of thumb, the larger the vessel affected the more extensive the damage to the brain and the patient. If no treatment is given or if the treatment is ineffective the damage is irreparable and results in infarction (death of the relevant brain tissue). Sometimes the damage can be very extensive or affect vital parts of the brain and this can result in the patient dying either immediately or very soon after the onset of stroke. At other times the symptoms can last a few minutes or hours and disappear within 24 hours. This type of stroke is call transient ischemic attack (TIA) Every year, an estimated 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke. This is equivalent to one person every five minutes. Most people affected are over 65, but anyone can have a stroke, including children and even babies. Around 1000 people under 30 have a stroke each year. Stroke is the third most common cause of death in the UK. It is also the single most common cause of severe disability. More than 250,000 people in the UK live with disabilities caused by a stroke Stroke Association) Common symptoms of stroke include numbness, weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, a dribbling mouth, slurred speech or difficulty finding words or understanding speech, sudden blurred vision or loss of sight, confusion or unsteadiness or even severe headache.