What is a stroke?
Stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Without blood, brain cells can be damaged or die. This damage can have different effects depending on where it happens in the brain. It can affect people’s body, mobility and speech, as well as how they think and feel.
Stroke devastates lives around the world.¹
Stroke is the leading cause of disability and the second leading cause of death globally. Stroke can happen to anyone at any age. Stroke affects everyone: survivors, family and friends, workplaces and communities.
17M - Strokes 6M - deaths 5M - Permanently Disabled
Stroke is treatable.
Stroke is a complex medical issue. But there are ways to significantly reduce its impact. Recognizing the signs of stroke early, treating it as a medical emergency with admission to a specialized stroke unit, and access to the best professional care can substantially improve outcomes.
The right care makes a difference, but many people are not getting the stroke treatment they need.
6 key facts about stroke treatment
1. Early recognition makes a big difference.
Knowing the signs of stroke and getting treatment quickly saves lives and improves recovery. If you think someone may have had a stroke, do this FAST check:
- Face – Is one side drooping?
- Arms – Raise both arms. Is one side weak?
- Speech – Is the person able to speak? Are words jumbled or slurred?
- Time – Act quickly and seek emergency medical attention immediately.
2. Around 1 in 10 more people make an excellent recovery when cared for in a specialized stroke unit.²
All patients with stroke (ischaemic or haemorrhagic) should be admitted to a specialized stroke unit, which involves a designated ward with a specialized team.
3. Clot-busting drugs (tPA or thrombolysis) increase the chance of a good outcome by 30%.³
Clot-busting drugs break up blood clots. This treatment can be administered up to 4.5 hours of symptom onset in many patients with ischaemic stroke. The earlier it is given, the greater the effect.
4. Clot retrieval treatment increases the chance of a good outcome by more than 50%.4
Clot retrieval treatment (mechanical thrombectomy) involves removing a blood clot and can improve survival rates and reduce disability for many people with ischaemic stroke caused by large artery blockage.
5. Rehabilitation is a critical step in the treatment process.
Rehabilitation starts in the hospital as soon as possible following a stroke. It can improve function and help the survivor regain as much independence as possible over time.
6. One in four survivors will have another stroke.
Treatments that prevent another stroke include drugs to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, antiplatelet therapies, anticoagulation for atrial fibrillation, surgery or stenting for selected patients with severe carotid artery narrowing.
Lifestyle changes can also greatly reduce the risk of another stroke. Changes include eating well, being physically active, being tobacco-free, managing stress, and limiting alcohol consumption.
Join the fight against stroke.
Stroke affects us all. Let’s take action, drive awareness, and push for better access to stroke treatments.
Everyone can Act now to increase Awareness and Access:
- Be FAST aware. Learn the signs of stroke and know to take immediate action.
- Share this information with family and friends.
Health care professionals
- Even with limited resources, you can do something.
- Follow best practices and provide evidence-based treatments.
- Download the World Stroke Organization Global Stroke Services
- Guidelines and Roadmap to Delivering Quality Stroke Care.
- Strive for continuous improvement
- Do a simple audit of your regional/local services to monitor and improve your care delivery.
Governments and health care system decision makers
- Take a leadership role in stroke care by increasing access to evidence-based stroke treatment.
- Support the development of coordinated systems of care including specialized stroke units and stroke care teams.
- Fund stroke awareness campaigns.
- Support excellence in stroke research.
Everyone must advocate together in one world voice for stroke
- Download the World Stroke Organization Advocacy Toolkit from the World Stroke Organization to get your campaign started.
Together we can conquer stroke!
Get involved at worldstrokecampaign.org
Visit world-stroke.org for a list of global Stroke Support Organizations to support survivors and their families.
¹Feigin et al 2015, ² Stroke Unit Trialists 2013, ³Emberson et al 2014, 4Goyal et al 2016