What causes stroke in South Africa? Including statistics and treatment

Statistically, stroke kills 25,000 persons annually in South Africa and causes disability in 95,000 persons per year.



Stroke is when there is poor blood flow to the brain causing brain damage and rapid symptoms.

It’s a medical emergency. You need to act FAST to save the remaining parts of the brain as every second counts!

What causes stroke in South Africa?
What causes stroke in South Africa? Continue reading

There are 2 main types of stroke;

1. Ischemic stroke: due to blockage of a blood vessel in the brain

2. Hemorrhagic stroke: due to bleeding directly into the brain or into the space between the thin membranes that cover the brain (meninges)

These 8 factors can make you more likely to have stroke

1. High blood pressure: No. 1
2. Obesity
3. Diabetes
4. Smoking
5. High blood cholesterol
6. Kidney disease
7. Irregular heart beat (atrial fibrillation)
8. Previous mini-stroke (stroke symptoms that lasted less than 24hrs)

7 common symptoms of stroke you should know

1. Deviation of face to one side
2. Unable to move/feel on one side
3. Slurred speech
4. Loss of vision in one side
5. Dizziness
6. Weakness
7. Headache

All may not always be there but suspect stroke if someone has esp. the first four

There could be other symptoms of stroke depending on the part of the brain where blood flow is affected and the sex of the individual.

This pic shows you some of the stroke symptoms in Women Vs. Men.

What causes stroke in South Africa
Symptoms of Stroke All South Africans Should Know

Once you suspect a stroke, don’t waste time. Every second matters.

If you’re alone, shout for help! 🆘
If there’s emergency line dial fast! 📞
If there’s none, move patient to hospital fast! 🚑

The more seconds you waste, the more brain tissue gets damaged!

To diagnose stroke properly, your doctor would typically

• perform a physical exam on you paying attention to your blood pressure, and

• order for tests like;
– Brain scan (esp CT -computed tomography)
– Heart scan (Echo)
– ECG (electrocardiogram)
– Chest X-ray
– Blood tests

Early treatment of stroke with medications like “clot busters” can reduce the brain damage.

Also other treatment modalities will focus on reducing the complications and preventing more strokes from happening.

There are many complications of stroke including

1. Brain swelling
2. Abnormal blood clots
3. Chest infection (Pneumonia)
4. Depression
5. Bedsores
6. Seisures
7. Urinary infections
8. Speech problems
9. Muscle tighteness
10. Chronic headaches

To prevent stroke, the most important thing is to prevent/reduce the risk factors we listed above

1. CHECK YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE REGULARLY: Can’t stress this enough
2. Eat healthy
3. Exercise
4. No smoking
5. No excess alcohol
6. If placed on BP medications, take them religiously

Some of the damage caused by stroke can not be reversed no matter what treatment is given.

That’s why we must act fast to prevent extensive brain injury when we suspect a stroke.


Reuben Ziraghi Markus


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