World Stroke Day: Let’s Talk About Brain Injury

International Stroke Day is on October 29th, But Why Should We Care?

Believe it or not, if you’re reading this, and you are a woman, or you’re over 25 you’re more at risk for a stroke (Rexrode et al., 2022).

According to a study recently released by Rexrode et al., (2022), women accounted for 57.1% of stroke deaths that means for women in the US it was the third leading cause of death.

Emilia Clarke’s Battle For Her Life

Strokes can happen to anyone. This, unfortunately, was what, Emilia Clarke learnt.

It was 2011 and Clarke, in her role as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, had just finished shooting the first season.

She was working out with her personal trainer when she began to feel a bad headache coming on. Pushing through, she forced herself to work through the first exercises. But the shooting, stabbing, constricting pain only got worse. At some level she says, while she was crawling into the locker room, she knew what was happening, her brain was damaged.

Clarke was experiencing a subarachnoid haemorrhage, a type of stroke which results in a ruptured brain aneurysm. Basically bleeding in the brain. It has a 43% risk of death immediately after and a 57% mortality rate at 6 months (Lantigua et al., 2015).

Then in 2013 after making a recovery, a routine check up led to another brain surgery. Only this time she woke up screaming in pain – it had failed.

Over the next month, she lost hope, believing that at any moment she might die. She also lost a lot of her brain. Yet in her own words, “it’s remarkable that I am able to speak, sometimes articulately, and live my life completely normally with absolutely no repercussions,” (Metro interview).

For a long time, she kept the experience quiet. She was terrified of the news getting out. But she’s now using her painful experience to raise awareness. Her non-profit, SameYou, helps victims of brain injury and stroke go through rehabilitation.

How Does A Stroke Affect The Body?

Strokes affect people differently, but because of their location in the brain, they can be crippling. Causing a range of issues to movement, speech, and even the ability to think and feel.

It really depends on which area of the brain is injured and how soon treatment arrives (Campbell et al., 2019).

Who Is Most At Risk For A Stroke? (Jacobson et al., 2018)

✔ Young women who use oral contraceptives

✔ Women who have just given birth, and those who have had five or more live births, than in those who have only had one or two.

✔ But recent data from a study by JAHA, showed that breastfeeding lowers the risk of strokes breast cancer, ovarian cancer and type 2 diabetes. Plus, the risk only reduces the longer a woman breastfeeds.

That Sounds A Bit Scary, But What Can I Do About It?

It’s really important to improve your knowledge of what causes strokes and recognize the warning signs, if medical attention is called straight away, people’s lives can be saved.

According to Jin (2014), the common warning signs of a stroke are:

✔ Drooping on one side of the face

✔ Weakness on one side of the body (such as an arm, leg, or both)

✔ Numbness or unusual sensations on one side of the body

✔ Trouble speaking (speech is slurred or cannot repeat a simple phrase)

The leading causes of stroke are high blood pressure and diabetes. Testing and knowing your status for diabetes and high blood pressure is the first step to preventing a stroke. This is one of the top reasons

Epicentre’s Walk-In Lab gives away free blood pressure tests with every Walk-In Lab package. It’s also why our full diabetes screening package is priced at just R50.

Plus, if you test positive for diabetes, we’ll be there. Epicentre offers comprehensive diabetes monitoring packages that make keeping an eye on things safe, quick, and claimable from your insurance. With our full monitoring package priced from just R205.

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