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Understanding a Stroke or Brain Attack

What actually happens to your body when you have a Stroke? There are different types of Stroke.

  1. Ischemic (is-karmic) Stroke. Most Strokes occur when an artery, (also known as a blood vessel), carrying blood to the brain is blocked or plugged. This is the most common type of Stroke. Blood is used to carry nourishment to the brain. When a blockage occurs, part of the brain is starved of the oxygen or nourishment it needs. Because of this, part of the brain can become damaged.
  2. Brain (cerebral) Haemorrhages. When a haemorrhage type of stroke occurs, the blood vessel breaks, and blood leaks into the brain. These types of stroke are less common. With both these types of Stroke; the area of the brain that does not receive the blood flow will decide what kind of effect that Stroke will have. This is because different parts of the brain do different things. It is also why the effects of stroke can be so different and are varied in each person.
  3. TIAs (Transient Ischemic Attacks). These are a temporary blocking of the blood vessel and you can get the signs and symptoms of a stroke. The effects can last between a few minutes and a few hours. They should be treated as a warning sign of the likelihood of a future more serious stroke.

Signs and symptoms of a Stroke  You can recognise a stroke using the FAST test:

FACIAL weakness - Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?

ARM weakness - Can the person raise both arms?

SPEECH problems - Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?

TIME to call 999

Other symptoms could be     


When you call 999, you should tell the ambulance service that you suspect the person is having  a stroke. The ambulance service will then treat this case as ' category A', which means this is an immediate life-threatening condition. The target time for responding to category A calls is 8 minutes, so you can expect the ambulance to arrive within this time

Not all these warning signs occur with every stroke and even if they appear to go away should never be ignored. The quicker you get medical attention, the more likely it is that the outcome will be better.   

Within 3 hours is the optimum time.