Understanding Stroke: Symptoms, Risks and Prevention

Each year the stroke affects half of seniors over 75 years. With the aging of the population, it is all the more necessary to learn about the devastating effects of a stroke to raise awareness about prevention. Causes, warning signs, sequelae…

What is a stroke?

The leading cause of disability in adults, Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA) corresponds to a sudden and unpredictable stoppage of blood circulation in an area of ​​the brain, resulting in lesions.

Stroke causes two possible damages in the brain: the obstruction of blood vessels causing a cerebral infarction, or their rupture causing a cerebral hemorrhage.

There are therefore different forms of stroke:

  • Cerebral infarction(80% of cases ): a blood clot (thrombosis) or a cholesterol plaque blocks an artery and prevents the irrigation of this part of the brain. If the artery opens on its own and the incident remains without sequelae, the stroke is said to be ischemic.
  • Cerebral hemorrhage: a weakened cerebral artery (aneurysm) ruptures. This stroke, rarer (20% of cases), forms a hematoma. The surrounding part of the brain is damaged by the pressure of the hematoma.
  • Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): the blockage of circulation lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes. The clot resolves and causes no sequelae. TIA can be confused with malaise when it is a sign of a more serious and significant risk of stroke.

What causes a stroke?


The likelihood of having a stroke is the product of many factors:

  • Old age.
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking, and in women taking birth control pills combined with smoking increases
  • arterial hypertension and hyper-coagulation of the blood, increasing the risk of ischemic stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Too high cholesterol
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity and an unbalanced diet
  • Irregular heartbeat and heart problems
  • sleep apnea
  • Madness
  • Family history

The warning signs of a stroke:


It is crucial to recognize the symptoms that a person experiences during a stroke to act quickly by calling the Emergency Medical Service (EMS). They are the same in the case of a cerebral infarction or a cerebral hemorrhage. It is advisable to be vigilant in the event of manifestation of one or more signs:

  • A deformation of the mouth, with an asymmetrical smile, or paralysis of the face.
  • Weakness on one side of the body: the person cannot raise both arms at the same time. One of the 2 is weak, cannot be lifted or falls.
  • Speech disorders: the person does not understand a simple sentence or cannot repeat it.

Sequelae of a stroke and medical follow-up:

A stroke has consequences if the lesions are not treated within 3 hours. After 7 hours, they may beir reversible. They depend on the part of the brain affected.

50% of victims retain sequelae of varying intensity: motor difficulties, paralysis (hemiplegia), attention or memory disorders, language and writing disorders (aphasia), pain, chronic fatigue, cognitive decline, depression, etc.

Living after a stroke, with cognitive or motor difficulties, requires rehabilitating and seeking solutions to compensate for the loss of autonomy. The use of a speech therapist, a neurologist, an occupational therapist or even a physiotherapist can help overcome the various sequelae of a stroke. Also,


care and home help solutions can be considered to best support the person when they leave the hospital, during their convalescence.

How to prevent the risk of a stroke?:

Stroke has serious consequences, particularly in terms of social and professional reintegration. However, it is possible to limit the risks of its appearance:

  • Eat a balanced diet, especially fruits and vegetables and reduce salt intake
  • Do a minimum of physical exercise
  • Lose weight if overweight
  • Stop smoking
  • Moderate alcohol consumption
  • Control high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes
  • Avoid unnecessary stress
  • Drug treatments (diabetes, cholesterol, heart disease etc.) must be seriously followed
  • Aspirin may be prescribed for seniors at risk to reduce the possibility of a blood clot forming
    If the person has already suffered from a stroke, applying these tips is more than recommended. They will be accompanied by medical monitoring and preventive and curative treatment if necessary.

It is advisable to consult your doctor if you detect warning signs. Also, you must be aware of the urgency if the situation arises: any suspicion should encourage you to call 15 (fire brigade ). Prompt treatment will often limit sequelae and other complications.