Stroke has become the second leading cause of long-term disability and the second cause of death worldwide.1 Annually, 15 million people suffer a stroke. Of these, 5 million die and another 5 million are left permanently disabled, placing a burden on their family and community.2
A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly interrupted (ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, spilling blood into the spaces surrounding brain cells (haemorrhagic stroke).3 In Western societies, about 80% of strokes caused by focal cerebral ischemia due to arterial occlusion, and the remaining 20% are caused by haemorrhages.4
Shortages of oxygen and nutrients lead to brain cells death. Although stroke is a disorder of the brain, it can affect the entire body and may cause following problems:
- Complete paralysis on one side of the body, called hemiplegia
- Hemiparesis is a weakness of one side of the body
- Trouble with walking, loss of balance or coordination
- Problems with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment, and memory
- Stroke survivors often have problems understanding or forming speech.
- Stroke patients may have difficulty controlling their emotions or may express inappropriate emotions.
- Post-stroke depression
- Vascular dementia
4 MARKUS, Hugh S. Stroke: causes and clinical features. Medicine, 2004, 32. Jg., Nr. 10, S. 57-61.