1. A stroke is caused by the heart
Stroke is associated with cardiovascular risk factors; however, it is not a problem of the heart. There are 2 types of stroke. Ischemic and hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke occurs when there is a rupture or blockage of the veins and arteries in the brain. A stroke is not a heart attack. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs from bleeding in the brain.
2. You cannot prevent a stroke
This is a common misconception, as many risk factors can cause you to have a stroke. These include smoking, alcoholism, stress, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, as well as head and neck injuries (trauma). You can modify these risk factors by changing your lifestyle. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can reduce these risk factors.
3. Strokes are not genetic
Certain single-gene diseases, such as sickle cell disease, can increase a person’s risk of having a stroke. Furthermore, if a family shares similar lifestyle patterns, this can also impact the risk of stroke.
4. Stroke symptoms are unnoticeable
Always remember F-A-S-T:
- F: face drooping. One side of the face drops and becomes numb
- A: arm weakness, when one arm becomes numb or weak and, when raised, drifts slowly downward
- S: speech slurring or difficulty
- T: time to call 000
The quicker a patient is treated for stroke; the better chance emergency teams have of reversing the symptoms. The longer the symptoms last, the lower the chances are for recovery. Therefore, it is critical that an ambulance is called at the onset of stroke symptoms — i.e. trouble speaking, double vision, paralysis or numbness (000). Research has shown that patients who arrive within a 3-hour window from the first onset of symptoms typically have less disability than those who arrived later.
5. Strokes only occur in the elderly
Although being aged over 55 is a significant risk factor for stroke, it can occur at any age. In fact, 10-15 percent of all strokes that occur are in people aged 18 to 50 years old.
Furthermore, COVID-19 can increase the risk of acute ischemic stroke. This is due to the inflammatory response, which causes the blood to thicken, resulting in a clot.
6. A stroke will always cause disability or paralysis
Not everyone who has suffered a stroke will have paralysis.
The long-term impacts of a stroke depend on the area and amount of brain tissue affected. For example, damage to the right side of the brain will affect the left side of the body.
The effects to the left side of the brain include:
- speech and language difficulties
- memory loss
Damage to the right side of the brain includes:
- vision problems
- memory loss
- change in behaviour