What is a stroke?

A stroke is a serious life-threatening condition that needs emergency medical treatment as soon as it occurs. The sooner the person suffering from a stroke receives treatment, the less damage is likely to occur. It’s estimated that 100,000 people have a stroke every year. In the UK, there are 1.2 million stroke survivors.


What are the symptoms of a stroke?

It’s important for people to be able to recognise a stroke as soon as it happens, so they can call 999. Because of that, the NHS developed a handy acronym to remember the systems: FAST.

  • Face: the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their eye or mouth may droop, especially on the left-hand side.
  • Arms: the person may not be able to lift both arms or feel a weakness or numbness in one of their arms.
  • Speech: their speech may be slurred or garbled, or they may not be able to talk at all or understand what is being said to them.
  • Time: a reminder that it’s now time to dial 999 if any of these symptoms occur.

After having a stroke, some symptoms will persist long-term, due to the injury caused to their brain. It can mean a long period of rehabilitation is required. Long-term problems may include:

  • Disrupted communication
  • Loss of spatial awareness
  • Loss of memory
  • Loss of vision
  • Double vision
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Loss of executive function
  • Problems swallowing
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Movement problems or paralysis
  • Fatigue or insomnia

The severity and number of symptoms will depend on whether the stroke affected certain parts of the brain. This varies from person to person.


What causes a stroke?

A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Strokes can happen at any age, but the majority occur after the age of 55. The risk of strokes increases as you get older from there. 

There are two types of strokes, each with their own causes. The first and most common is an ischaemic stroke which happens when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. This will usually occur in places where arteries have been narrowed over time from fatty deposits. Some behavioural habits and prior conditions that can cause ischaemic strokes include:

  • Smoking 
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) 
  • Obesity 
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes 
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Ageing

The second is a haemorrhagic stroke, also known as cerebral haemorrhage or intracranial haemorrhage. This occurs when a blood vessel inside the skull bursts and bleeds into or around the brain. They are less common than ischaemic strokes.

The main cause of a haemorrhagic stroke is high blood pressure, which makes the arteries in the brains weaker and more likely to rupture. High blood pressure can in turn be caused by:

  • Being overweight
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress

What treatment options are available for strokes?

Effective and fast treatment can prevent long-term problems and even save lives. Treatment for an ischaemic stroke involves:

  • Thrombolysis (clot buster) medicine
  • Thrombectomy, an emergency procedure to remove blood clots
  • Aspirin and other antiplatelets
  • Anticoagulants
  • Blood pressure medicines
  • Statins
  • Carotid endarterectomy, a form of surgery to unblock the artery

Many of these treatments are used immediately after the stroke to reduce long-term problems, as well as to reduce the risk of future strokes.

Treatment for a haemorrhagic stroke involves:

  • Surgery to remove any blood from the brain and repair burst blood vessels
  • Putting a tube, known as a shunt, into the brain to allow the fluid to drain

Both forms of a stroke may also require ongoing treatment and supportive care to manage the long-term symptoms and problems that may occur.


How can medical cannabis help with strokes?

Symptoms of a stroke can last for the rest of the person’s life in one way or another. In some cases, medical cannabis has been known to help manage the symptoms, in particular chronic pain and insomnia.

For people suffering from stroke recovery who are not getting adequate relief from traditional medicine, medical cannabis can be an alternative route. 

For advice on whether medical cannabis treatment might suit your own or a loved one’s needs, we at The Medical Cannabis Clinics offer treatment plans and private care for patients through online video link consultations.  Our expert specialist doctors can guide you through the treatment options available from the clinic.

Appointments start from only £70. Book a private consultation today and one of our expert specialist doctors will be able to guide you through your treatment options.

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