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Frequently Asked Questions

10 common questions asked after a stroke

Why me?

Stroke often happens out of the blue, without warning. If you have been affected by stroke you, and your family, may be left in shock and disbelief.

Stroke can also cause a grief reaction, due to the overwhelming sense of loss. However, asking 'Why me?' is the first step on the process of recovery and coming to terms with the changes a stroke can bring.

Two types of stroke: clot and bleedWhat causes a stroke?

Stroke is caused by an interruption of the blood flow to the brain, by either a blood clot (thrombosis) or burst blood vessel (haemorrhage).

As a result brain cells are deprived of the oxygen and other nutrients which they need. Some brain cells become damaged and others die. No two strokes are the same, and the symptoms depend on the area of the brain affected and the extent of the damage incurred.

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Are there any warning signs before a stroke happens?

For most people stroke happens suddenly, without warning. However, sometimes you may experience symptoms before a stroke occurs, such as dizziness, headache and / or loss of balance.

A transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or minor stroke is a clear warning of an increased risk of a stroke and requires medical attention.

Does age increase the risk of stroke?

Yes, stroke becomes more common as you get older. As you age your blood vessels become less elastic, increasing your chance of developing high blood pressure and therefore increasing your risk of stroke.

You can reduce your risk of stroke by paying attention to risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, exercise, diet and alcohol intake.

Are strokes caused by high blood pressure?

Persistent high blood pressure is a common risk factor for stroke. Over a period of time high blood pressure can cause damage to your blood vessels. You blood may also become stickier and more likely to clot.

High blood pressure very rarely has any symptoms so the only way to know your blood pressure reading is to have it measured.

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Does exercise help prevent a stroke?

Yes, exercise can help prevent a stroke. Regular physical activity is a good way of lowering your blood pressure. It will also help control your weight and it can help to lower your cholesterol level.

You should aim to take aerobic exercise for about 30 minutes on at least five days a week. Talk to your doctor if you are new to exercise, or are unsure about what or how much you can do.

Why do I feel so exhausted after stroke?

woman feeling very tired ©Crown Copyright 2009 Fatigue, or exhaustion, is a common feeling after stroke. This is because your body is recovering from the effects of the stroke.

Everyday tasks can take more concentration and effort. You can help by pacing yourself, breaking tasks down and increasing your level of activity gently to build up strength and stamina.

It is also important to take rest when your body tells you that you need it. Fatigue will lessen over time.

How long does recovery take?

Recovery is a very individual thing, depending on the severity of your stroke and other factors.

Most recovery occurs within the first few weeks after stroke. However, you can go on gradually recovering for a long time after that.

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Does stroke run in families?

Stroke is not hereditary. However, if you have a close relative who has had a stroke (or other cardiovascular problems) you are at an increased risk. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about stroke in your family.

How can Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland (CHSS) help?

  • Our specialist Advice Line nurses provide confidential advice and support to people living with a stroke condition, their relatives and carers.
  • We also produce a range of health information booklets, factsheets and DVDs.
  • We provide support in the community through general stroke groups, groups aimed to help people with communication problems and stroke nurses.
  • We provide personal support grants to individuals and families in financial difficulty.
  • Stroke Chat Scotland is a virtual stroke group for people affected by stroke in Scotland.

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© Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland 2014 | Page last updated on Monday 27th January, 2014