Countdown: Hewer recalls time he thought he was having a stroke
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There are 1.3 million stroke survivors in the UK and around 100,000 people have strokes each year. Certain medical conditions can increase your risk of stroke, and as we age we are at higher risk.
A stroke is a serious medical condition. It happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off and brain cells die. Perhaps one of the lesser known risk factors surrounds a form of headache.
Migraines have not been shown to cause stroke, but if you have migraine with aura, you have a very slightly higher risk of stroke, according to the Stroke Association.
About 30 percent of people with migraine have migraine with aura, the charity states.
These tend to begin with an “aura” where certain symptoms develop gradually over five to 30 minutes and last less than one hour. The headache can occur with or after the aura.
These symptoms have three main areas.
First, are visual changes. This is the most common aura symptom, and the changes can include flashing lights or blank spots.
Migraines with sensations such as pins and needles, tingling or numbness, weakness or a spinning sensation are also in this category.
Less commonly, you may have difficulty speaking or hearing, and feel fear or confusion and even have paralysis.
“As far as we know migraine doesn’t cause strokes. However, for some people migraine may increase their risk of stroke.
“This doesn’t mean they will have a stroke because they have migraines, but the chances of them having one is higher than if they didn’t have migraine,” state The Migraine Trust.
Nonetheless, studies show that the risk of ischaemic stroke is increased in women with migraine aura under 45, women who use oral contraceptives, women who smoke and people who get migraine with aura for the first time after the age of 50.
“In older people with migraine the evidence doesn’t show that migraine is a risk factor for stroke,” the charity says.
As a risk factor you cannot change having a migraine with aura. However, there are some things that can help to manage other risk factors for stroke.
Regularly drinking too much alcohol raises your risk of a stroke, and the UK government says it’s best to drink no more than 14 units a week, and to spread the units over the week.
Smoking doubles your risk of dying from a stroke, “but the minute you quit, your risk of a stroke starts to drop right away”, the Stroke Association says.
Being overweight or obese can also raise your risk of a stroke.
Strokes are a medical emergency and if you think that you or someone else is having a stroke, phone 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance, the NHS says.
One of the main symptoms of a stroke can be seen in the face. A person’s face may have dropped on one side, they may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
The person with a suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there.
Their speech may also be confused and they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.
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