Stroke has been classified as the most disabling chronic disease, with deleterious consequences for individuals’ families and society.
Ischaemic stroke also known as Cerebrovascular accident (CVA) (Smeltzer et al. 2008) or brain attack.
CVA is increasing with frequent lasting disability, but holistic care plans may reduce rehabilitation time and retain dignity of the patient by being involved in their recovery. CVA is a crisis, patients are often fearful of the future and are left feeling trapped within a non-responsive body.
CVA occurs when blood flow is absent in the brain for longer than a few seconds, resulting in cell death and permanent damage. The pathological background may be ischemic or haemorrhagic disturbances of the cerebral blood circulation.
Migraines have not been shown to cause strokes but having an aura migraine gives you a very slightly higher risk of stroke.
An aura migraine or ocular migraine attacks your vision, a visual disturbance seeing flashing or shimmering lights, stars or zigzag lines.
Strokes and migraines happen in the brain, sometimes symptoms of migraines mimic strokes.
In stroke, the blood supply to the part of the brain is cut off killing brain cells causing permanent damage to the brain which can have a long lasting physical cognitive and environmental effects.
A migraine causes pain and sensory disturbances, changes inside the brain are usually temporary hence, the relationship between migraines and strokes are complex.
If you have an aura migraine you are about twice as likely to have an Ischaemic stroke in your lifetime compared to those without the aura migraine.
If you have migraine seek medical support, manage your underlying co-morbidity such as High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, High Cholesterol or Arterial Fibrillation, stopping smoking, losing weight, healthy eating, exercising and avoiding Chronic Stress.
What are causes of Migraines?
- Emotional – Stress, Anxiety, Depression
- Physical – Tiredness or Tension, mostly neck and shoulders
- Hormonal – Some women experience migraines around the time of their period
- Dietary – Missing meals, drinking alcohol, foods such as chocolate and cheese
- Environment – Bright light or stuffy environment
- Medicine – some sleeping tablets and combined contraceptive pills
High Blood Pressure (HBP) usually has no symptoms but it is a contributing factor and a single risk factor for stroke.
HBP is when your heart pumps blood all around your body through your arteries at a high pressure.
Blood Pressure is a measure of how strongly blood passes against the walls of your arteries. If the pressure is too high it puts a strain on your arteries and your heart. Making it more likely that you will have health problems such as a heart attack, a stroke or kidney disease.
It is normal for blood pressure to varies high or low through out the day. It can go low if you are sleeping or sitting quietly and high if you are rushing about or stressed. Although, if you are diagnosed with HBP that means your blood pressure is consistently too high without noticed. “HBP is a common problem”.
What causes High Blood Pressure?
- Age – High Blood pressure is common in people over the age of 65
- Lifestyle – Overweight or Obese, Smoking, drinking too much Alcohol, not Exercising and eating unhealthily
- Underlying Health Problems – HBP is sometimes caused by Kidney disease
- Family History – Blood Pressure problems can run in the family
- Ethnicity – African and Caribbean people are more likely to develop blood pressure
Diabetes is a condition caused by too much sugar in your blood called glucose. If it is not controlled well, it can increase your risk of stroke.
Your pancreas produces hormone called insulin which help to use up the glucose in your blood. It helps glucose to enter the cells in your body, so it can be use as energy. Insulin also controls the level of glucose in your blood.
Diabetes develops when your body is not able to produce insulin or the insulin it does produce does not work properly.
Two main types of Diabetes are:
Type 1 Diabetes – This develops when your body stop producing insulin, causing glucose to build up in your blood stream.
Type 2 Diabetes – Develops when your body does not produce enough insulin or when your body does not react to it in the right way.
What are the symptoms of Diabetes?
- Feeling very thirsty
- Frequently going to the toilet to pass water usually at night.
- Feeling very tired
- Unexplained weight loss
- Genital itching or regular episodes of thrush
- Blurred vision
What is the link between diabetes and stroke?
Diabetes doubles your chances of having stroke because high level of glucose in your blood can damage your blood vessels making them harder and narrower and more likely to become blocked. If this happens in a blood vessel leading to your brain it could cause a stroke.
Risk factors to diabetes
- A Family history
- Ethnicity – Asian Chinese, Black African and Black Caribbean background
- Being overweight or obese
- Age over 40 are more likely to develop type 2
- Gestational diabetes
If you have been diagnosed with a certain disease, it is advisable to take your prescribed medication. If it has not been diagnosed, try to make a change in your lifestyle; for example, eating habits, stress management and daily exercise. Even if it runs through your family, you may still be able to change or delay the onset by changing your lifestyle.
Southend Hospital (stroke unit)
Definition of Terms
CVA – Cerebrovascular
HBP – High Blood Pressure