Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it and brain cells die. It is a leading cause of disability across the world, affecting victims and families who are faced with a long road to recovery (stroke is one of the largest causes of disability – half of all stroke survivors have a disability) in cases where the condition is not fatal. Strokes are the 4th largest cause of death in the United Kingdom and it is estimated that a person will suffer from the effects of a stroke once every 3 minutes and 27 seconds. The latest global research indicates that the incidence of strokes is increasing worldwide – and more alarmingly strokes, which traditionally affected the elderly are now affecting an increasing proportion of younger people. Research indicates that the modern lifestyle is at least partially to blame for the number of younger people affected by strokes. A rise in the prevalence of diabetes, high cholesterol levels, obesity, cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse are all playing their part in contributing to the changing demographic of those affected by strokes. For those people who have a history of heart disease and / or stroke in their family some simple lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of these conditions.
After a stroke, people often experience emotional and behavioural changes. This is because stroke affects the brain, and our brain controls our behaviour and emotions. Injury from a stroke may make a person forgetful, careless, irritable or confused. Stroke survivors may also feel anxiety, anger or depression.
Many disabilities resulting from stroke improve with time. Behaviour changes and emotional health can also improve over time, however stroke victims and families require support structures in order to cope with the mental and physical effects of stroke. Given the increasing number of younger people affected by strokes the stresses and strains of caring for and providing emotional support for ever younger victims of strokes is placing enormous strain on family units