By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Stroke is caused by a reduced or obstructed blood flow to part of the brain. The brain requires a continuous supply of oxygen and nutrients in order to function. Restriction of this blood supply to any area can cause sudden and serious damage to the brain.
Damage caused to a region of the brain during a stroke can affect parts of the body controlled by that brain area. There may be weakness or paralysis of the limbs or a loss of speech and facial muscle movement, for example.
Some figures estimate that 75% of stroke survivors suffer from a disability that reduces their chances of getting or remaining fully employed. In addition, stroke severely impacts on victims' quality of life, as many cannot perform everyday activities.
Some of the effects of stroke include:
- Residual paralysis or disability compromising mobility.
- Inability to perform normal daily routines such as bathing, changing clothes, grooming or preparing and eating food.
- Impaired or lost speech
- Bladder and bowel incontinence
- Vision loss
- Chronic or long standing pain
- Loss of memory, impaired cognitive function and dementia
- Depression and anxiety disorders
- Disability causing a person to be chair- or bed-ridden can lead to pressure sores, pneumonia and deep vein thrombosis. Individuals who are bedridden due to immobility are also at an increased risk for pulmonary embolism, as a blood clot that forms in the veins of the unused legs may travel via the blood vessels and become lodged in the lungs.
- Severe stroke may also cause coma, brain stem damage and even death
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc