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How to reduce the risk of having a stroke

People at risk for Stroke are usually older people and people with certain medical problems, like high blood pressure (hypertension) and diabetes. Lifestyle factors such as diet, drinking alcohol, smoking and how active you are also affect the risk. Modifying these life choices can significantly reduce the overall risk of Stroke

Particular medical conditions (acquired and hereditary) predispose to certain types of Stroke. Common examples are irregular heart rhythm, Sickle Cell Anaemia, Polycystic Kidney Disease, Moya-Moya disease as well as rare blood clotting problems. If you have any of these it is important that you discuss them with your doctor.

The vast majority of patients with Stroke or at risk of developing a Stroke can be treated by various pharmacological means (tablets). Assessment of their carotids (neck vessels) and heart should have also been carried out by their doctors/neurologists and referred accordingly.

However, a significant minority of patients can also benefit from a neurosurgical intervention as well. These are patients that continue to have TIAs despite medical treatment. It is becoming increasingly recognised that a significant number of patients treated with Aspirin are as a matter of fact resistant to its effects. Some of these patients progressively lose their ability to control the blood flow in their brains and are at increased risk of a stroke or have recurrent TIAs, even if they are on maximal medical treatment. Specific tests are available to help identify such patients, who can then be offered a bypass procedure (STA-MCA Bypass) to surgically augment the blood supply of the affected part of the brain. A vessel (usually from the scalp) can be grafted onto the brain directly to perform this function.

Moreover, these types of procedures can help some patients with conditions like Sickle Cell Anaemia and Moya-Moya disease or syndrome, who develop similar problems.

Finally, patients with cerebral blood vessel weakness (aneurysms) can be treated with endovascular (through the arteries) or an open operation (craniotomy) treatments depending on whether they have bled from these lesions and on the anatomical location and type of the abnormality.

Excellent information on all aspects of stroke can be found at the Stroke Association Website: www.stroke.org.uk, which is the main reference for some of this information.