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St. Joseph's Health Centre Toronto

Everything you need to know about strokes

Every year we see hundreds of people who’ve suffered from a stroke: last year, more than 475 stroke survivors visited our Emergency Department and more than 250 were treated as patients on our inpatient units. This can be a life-altering event that impacts a person’s independence with basic life functions, social reintegration and overall quality of life.

“No two strokes are alike,” said Karol Pintier, a physiotherapist who works on our stroke unit, supporting patients to regain mobility. “The brain is such an intricate organ – even though certain clinical features are predictable, the rate and extent of recovery are difficult to predict.”

There are two main types of strokes:

  • An ischemic stroke is the most common type, and happens when a blood clot cuts off blood flow to a part of the brain, depriving it of nutrients, blood and oxygen.
  • hemorrhagic stroke is when a blood vessel bursts, causing bleeding in or around the brain.

For both types of stroke, it’s important to get help — quickly. Remember to Act FAST:

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CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS
While 80 per cent of all strokes happen to people over 60, there’s been a recent rise in the number of young people suffering from strokes, caused by heart problems, congenital factors, high blood pressure, diabetes and unhealthy lifestyles.

“The good news is that generally, younger people tend to recover better because their brains are a little more plastic – they can adapt more,” said Pintier. “The elderly patients we see tend to have additional diseases or conditions that can delay or complicate their recovery.”

stroke images for webHOW TO PREVENT A STROKE
Living a healthy lifestyle will help prevent 8 in 10 cases of premature heart disease and stroke. Here are some of the things you should be thinking about to keep your body at its healthiest:

  • Eat healthy foods: Eating a diet that’s rich in vitamins and nutrients – fruits, vegetables and other fibre-rich foods including pulses (lentils, chickpeas, etc.) will help give your body the energy it needs to stay powered and healthy.
  • Stay active: Exercise is such an enormous part of living a healthy lifestyle – just 20 minutes a day can have positive benefits, including helping you sleep better and manage stress.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: More than half of Canadian adults are overweight. Staying within a healthy range will reduce your chances of developing certain diseases and heart-related issues.
  • Remember to relax: We’re on the move a lot. Taking time to relax and/or meditate will help control stress levels, making you less likely to develop mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
  • Don’t smoke: Smoking can make blood clots more likely to form and increase plaque buildup in your arteries, which can lead to strokes. Follow tips from the Canadian Lung Association to stop smoking today.

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