Skip to content
Our Cambridge clinic is now open. Book now!
Our Cambridge clinic is now open. Book now!
Stroke signs to look out for

Stroke: Types, Causes, Symptoms & Prevention

A Cerebrovascular Event (CVA), or stroke, as it’s more commonly known, is a medical emergency. It occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is reduced or interrupted, depriving brain tissue of oxygen. This can result in brain cell death and potentially permanent damage to brain function. Understanding the different types of stroke, as well as the causes and symptoms, is crucial for prompt intervention and better outcomes. In the following article we will address these, alongside preventative measures that can be considered.

What is a Stroke?

A stroke is sometimes referred to as a "brain attack," as it can be likened to a heart attack in terms of severity and onset. There are three main types of strokes to consider:

Ischaemic Stroke: 

This is the most common type, accounting for around 85% of all strokes. It occurs when a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain is blocked by a blood clot, cutting off the blood flow to that part of the brain.

Haemorrhagic Stroke: 

This type of stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or leaks, causing bleeding into or around the brain. Haemorrhagic strokes account for about 15% of all strokes.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): 

Often referred to as a "mini-stroke," a TIA is caused by a temporary disruption in blood flow to the brain. It typically resolves without longstanding damage, but should not be ignored; TIAs can be warning signs of a more severe stroke in the future.

What are the causes?

A number of factors can contribute to the development of a stroke:

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension):

High blood pressure is the leading cause of strokes. It damages blood vessels over time, making them more prone to blockages or ruptures.

Atrial Fibrillation (AF):

AF is a condition where your heart rhythm develops an irregularity. It can cause blood clots to form in the heart, which can travel to the brain and cause a blockage.


Uncontrolled diabetes can damage blood vessels, increasing the risk of stroke.

High Cholesterol:

Elevated levels of cholesterol can lead to the build-up of plaque in the arteries, narrowing them and increasing the risk of blood clots.


Tobacco smoke is a significant risk factor to consider. Smoking can damage blood vessels and increase the likelihood of blood clots forming.

Obesity and Physical Inactivity: 

Being overweight or obese and not engaging in regular physical activity can lead to development of all the factors mentioned above.

What are the symptoms of a Stroke?

Recognising the symptoms of a stroke is crucial for seeking immediate medical attention. You may well have seen adverts referring to the acronym FAST, and it’s an important one to remember.

Recognising the symptoms of a stroke is crucial for seeking immediate medical attention. You may well have seen adverts referring to the acronym FAST, and it’s an important one to remember.

fallen side of face of stroke victim

Face Drooping: One side of the face may droop or become numb. Ask the person to smile to check for facial weakness.

raised arm

Arm Weakness: One arm may become weak or numb. Ask the person to raise both arms to see if either arm is affected.

man testing his speech

Speech Difficulty: Speech may become slurred or difficult to understand. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence to check for speech impairment.

calling 999

Time to Call Emergency Services: If you observe any of these symptoms, it's vital to call emergency services immediately, even if the symptoms seem to improve or disappear.

In addition to the FAST acronym, there are more broader symptoms to be aware of that might indicate a stroke is occurring:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body

  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech

  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

  • Sudden dizziness, loss of balance, or coordination

Stroke Prevention

While certain risk factors for stroke, such as age and family history, cannot be controlled, there are modifiable risk factors that can be addressed to lower our individual risk. 

Manage High Blood Pressure: 

Regular monitoring and management of blood pressure through lifestyle changes, and sometimes medication, can significantly reduce the risk of stroke.

Control Diabetes:

Diabetes UK estimates that 30% of type 2 diabetics in the UK are unaware of their condition. Understanding the symptoms of diabetes, or checking your HbA1c level, can be useful. If you are diagnosed as diabetic, proper management of blood sugar levels through diet, exercise, and medication can help prevent complications such as stroke.

Maintain a Healthy Diet:

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help control weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Do you know what your cholesterol level is? A simple blood test can measure this. 

Exercise Regularly:

Engaging in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for at least 150 minutes per week can improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of stroke.

Quit Smoking: 

Quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

Limit Alcohol Consumption: 

Excessive alcohol consumption can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of stroke. Limiting alcohol intake will always be beneficial.

Manage Atrial Fibrillation:

If diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, follow your healthcare provider's recommendations for treatment and monitoring to reduce the risk of stroke.

Armed with the correct information, it’s even possible to estimate your own individual risk of a stroke. Doctors will sometimes correlate your individual risk factors into a scoring system called QRISK, which generates your percentage chance of having a stroke or heart attack in the next decade.


Stroke is a serious medical condition that requires prompt intervention to minimize damage and improve outcomes. Whilst it is crucial to be able to spot the signs of stroke and act as soon as possible, understanding risk factors and prevention strategies can help reduce the risk. In the case of diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, symptoms may be minimal or absent, so monitoring your health can help increase awareness of your own individual risk.

Finally, it’s important to remember that time is of the essence when it comes to treating a stroke. Do not hesitate to call emergency services if you suspect someone is having a stroke.

Monitor your health with One Day Tests

Staying health is key to minimising the risk of Stroke and other conditions. One Day Tests offer a range of blood tests that enable you to monitor and understand your health like never before.

Whether it’s for routine health checks, managing a chronic condition, or just staying informed about your body, our range of blood tests provides the convenience, accuracy, and peace of mind you deserve.

You have the chose to visit one of our clinics or you can opt for the convenience and comfort of using our at-home blood test kits .

For additional assistance, guidance or queries regarding our custom blood tests, do not hesitate to get in touch. Our team is here to help you with any questions and provide you with the information you need. You can contact us at 0845 527 07 67 , send an email to , or reach out to us via WhatsApp.

Here are a selection of our most popular health check blood tests:

Previous article Vitamin D: Micronutrient, Mega Important
Next article Coeliac Disease: All you need to know

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields