Stroke is one of Australias leading causes of death and a leading cause of disability, however up to 80% of strokes can be prevented.

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked, stopping the brain from receiving vital oxygen and nutrients required for survival. A stroke can occur in two ways:

1.A blood clot or plaque build up within blood vessel; this is called an Ischaemic attack. Ischaemic attacks can either be Embolic or Thrombotic in nature.

2.A blood vessel to the brain leaks or breaks, this is called a Haemorrhagic stroke.

Ischaemic strokes occur when blood vessels to the brain are blocked due to a blood clot or plaque build up. In the case of a blood clot, this is called an Embolic Stroke and occurs when a blood clot travels from elsewhere in the body, up to the brain. Once in the brain, the clot travels into a blood vessel that is too small to pass through, blocking blood flow to that part of the brain.

If an Ischaemic stroke occurs due to plaque build up, this is defined as a Thrombotic stroke. Over time, plaque can build up in the blood streams, eventually causing a narrowing of the blood vessels until blood can no longer get through. This blockage of blood to the brain is called a Thrombotic Stroke.

A Haemorrhagic stroke occurs when there is damage to the blood vessels within the brain, causing bleeding and leakage. This leakage stops the transport of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Depending on where the bleed occurs, it is either an Intracerebral Haemorrhage or Subarachnoid Haemorrhage.

A person can also experience a temporary stroke, or transient ischaemic attack (TIA) caused by a temporary blockage of blood to the brain. After a TIA, your risk for a stroke is higher and should be taken seriously.

As mentioned, up to 80% of Strokes can be prevented. Main risk factors for stroke include: high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. All of these risk factors can be reduced by regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

A low level of physical activity is the second biggest risk factor for stroke. It is recommended that people aim to complete 30 minutes of exercise every day to reduce the risk of many health conditions, including stroke. Start by finding something you enjoy, and talk to your treating Doctor about any health concerns you may have. Your GP may even be able to refer you to an exercise professional to help develop an exercise program.

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