A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, causing damage to brain cells. The effects of a stroke depend on the part of the brain that was damaged and the amount of damage that occurred due to a lack of oxygen.

There are three main types of strokes. Ischaemic strokes, when an artery that supplies blood to your brain becomes blocked by a blood clot; haemorrhagic strokes, when a blood vessel ruptures causing a bleed inside the brain; and mini-strokes, or transient ischaemic attacks, when there’s a brief reduction in blood supply to a portion of the brain causing temporary symptoms like speech loss. A single occurrence of a mini-stroke doesn’t cause permanent damage to the brain.

CausesRisk factors for strokes are similar to those for heart diseases. These risk factors can be reduced or completely eliminated with lifestyle changes. These factors include smoking, uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.

Atrial fibrillation (an irregular heart rhythm) left untreated, increases your risk of stroke around four or five times. This is because atrial fibrillation increases the risk of blood clots forming in the top chambers of the heart, which can travel up to your brain and cause a blockage.

RecoveryStrokes affect people in different ways. You will likely see the most significant improvement in the first few weeks of your recovery, usually while you're still in the hospital. Complete recovery may take months or even years.

While in the hospital, a team of specialists, such as specialist nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists will begin the rehabilitation process. They will discuss the help you need with you and your family. The aim of rehabilitation is to help you live as independently as possible, once you leave the hospital and return home.