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The most common form of a Stroke is the result of a sudden disruption of the flow of blood to parts of the brain.

When blood cannot reach parts of the brain, the oxygen supply to those areas is cut off and the brain cells die (infarct).

Less frequently, blood vessels burst and blood spreads into nearby brain areas (haemorrhage). The result of these processes is a Stroke.

Functions normally controlled by these damaged brain areas are affected. In many cases, unconsciousness and/or partial paralysis may occur. This is often the immediate outward sign that a Stroke has occurred.

There are two different types of Stroke (Brain Attack). They are Ischaemic Stroke and Haemorrhagic Stroke.

In everyday life, blood clotting is beneficial. When you are bleeding from a wound, blood clots work to slow and eventually stop the bleeding. In the case of Stroke, however, clots are dangerous because they can block arteries and cut off blood flow. Ischaemic Stroke is the most common type of Stroke (80% – 85% of Strokes are ischaemic). An Ischaemic Stroke is caused when a clot blocks or ‘plugs’ a blood vessel in the brain. There are two ways that a clot Stroke can occur.

  • An embolic Stroke occurs when a blood clot forms somewhere in the body and travels through the blood stream to the brain.

  • A thrombolytic Stroke occurs when blood vessels narrow as a result of blood fat, cholesterol or calcium which grow to completely block the blood vessel.


Haemorrhagic Stroke

A haemorrhagic Stroke is caused when a blood vessel in the brain breaks or ‘erupts’. There are two types of haemorrhagic Stroke: a subarachnoid haemorrhage and an intracerebral haemorrhage.

  • An intracerebral haemorrhage, which is the more common form, involves bleeding within the brain tissue itself.

  • With a subarachnoid haemorrhage the bleeding occurs in the space around the brain. This is often due to an aneurysm – a thin or weak spot on a blood vessel wall.

     Facts and figures about stroke

  1. Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers and a leading cause of disability.[1]

  2. Stroke kills more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer.[2]

  3. In 2017 there will be almost 56,000 new and recurrent strokes – that is one stroke every nine minutes.[3]

  4. More than 80% of strokes can be prevented.[4]

  5. In 2017 there will be more than 475,000 people living with the effects of stroke. This is predicted to increase to one million by 2050  

  6. Around 30% of stroke survivors are of working age [under the age of 65]

  7. 65% of stroke survivors suffer a disability which impedes their ability to carry out daily living activities unassisted.[7]

  8. The financial cost of stroke in Australia is estimated to be $5 billion each year.[8]

  9. In 2015, funding for stroke research through the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) represented just 4.1 percent of the total investment in medical research. [9]

  10. The FAST test is an easy way to recognise and remember the signs of stroke. Using the FAST test involves asking these simple questions:
      Face – Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
      Arms – Can they lift both arms?
      Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
      Time – Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call 000 straight away


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