Backgrounder on stroke

| April 14, 2019

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A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Without blood, brain cells lack a supply of oxygen, which causes cell damage and cell death. Depending on which part of the brain is affected and how quickly the person is treated, the impacts on stroke survivors can be devastating to the body and can affect mobility, speech, and how stroke survivors think and feel. Strokes sometimes result in death.

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability globally, and Africa is no exception. Although most strokes happen to people over 65 years old, strokes can happen to anyone at any age, and they impact everyone: stroke survivors, family and friends, workplaces, and communities.

There are, however, preventive measures that people can take to reduce the risk of getting a stroke, and many things stroke survivors and their families can do to make life better and easier after a stroke.

Key facts

According to the World Health Organization and other authorities on stroke, 6.2 million deaths occur globally from stroke each year, which is more than the deaths from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined. Stroke is the second leading cause of death and disability among adults globally.

Globally, 17 million people suffer a stroke every year. Of these, more than six million or about 35% die, and another five million (30%) are left permanently disabled, which significantly burdens their families and communities.

Today, two-thirds of all individuals who have suffered a stroke live in developing countries. In these countries, health systems are often already challenged to the limit, and support for individuals and families affected by stroke is minimal. While the incidence of stroke appears to be decreasing in higher income countries, it appears to be increasing in Africa.

The lifetime risk of stroke is 1 in 5 for women, 1 in 6 for men.

The backgrounder is loaded with information that not only provides background knowledge on stroke, but gives directions on what to do in specific situations, and how to solve specific problems.

It contains three major sections:

  • Signs of a stroke
  • Ensuring safety and preventing injury for someone returning home after a stroke
  • Caring for the patient at home