Stroke Awareness Week 2011 | Western Cape Government

Stroke Awareness Week 2011

(Western Cape Government)
What is a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. Blood flow can become interrupted when a blood vessel to the brain bursts, causing bleeding, or becomes blocked by a blood clot. This can result in damage to the brain. There are varying effects of a stroke, from passing weakness or tingling in a limb to severe paralysis, coma or death. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, as many as 60 people die every day as a result of strokes.

Symptoms of a Stroke
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is regarded as a medical emergency and you should seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms of a stroke could include any of the following:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm and leg on one side of the body.
  • Sudden Loss of speech, or difficulty with talking or understanding speech.
  • Sudden Dimness, blurring or loss of vision, particularly in one eye only.
  • Sudden Unexplained dizziness, unsteadiness or sudden falls.
  • Confusion.

Potential Causes of a Stroke
There are various risk factors which contribute to stroke, such as hereditary (family history) factors as well as lifestyle habits. While some risk factors, such as family history cannot be changed - others, such as the following risk factors, can be changed or managed:

  • High blood pressure.
  • Atrial fibrillation (an irregular heart beat).
  • High blood cholesterol.
  • Smoking.
  • Physical inactivity.
  • Poor diet and excessive alcohol intake.
  • Being overweight.
  • Diabetes.
  • Use of elicit drugs e.g. cocaine.

Rehabilitation after a Stroke
Rehabilitation depends on the severity of the stroke and differs from person to person. In most cases, progress happens quite steadily within the first 18 months after a stroke. Stroke survivors may also benefit from rehabilitation centres and facilities, which may include the support of a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, dietician, speech therapist and social worker. The doctor who treated you for your stroke will usually refer you to a rehabilitation centre. Support from family and friends is critical during this period. You can contact the following facilities to assist with rehabilitation:

In-patient Support:

  • Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre, Tel: 021 370 2346
  • Conradie Care Centre, Tel: 021 532 3940

Out-patient Support:

  • Groote Schuur Hospital, Tel: 021 404 6458
  • Tygerberg Hospital, Tel: 021 938 4825

For detailed information, you can visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation website, or email

Alternatively, you can call the Heart Mark Diet Line on 0860 223 222 for free nutritional and lifestyle advice.

Source: The Heart and Stroke Foundation.
The content on this page was last updated on 15 March 2014