A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. The interruption may be due to build-up of fatty deposits on the inner walls of the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain (atherosclerosis and thrombosis), bleeding from a brain blood vessel (haemorrhage) or a blood clot that travels to the brain from a different part of the body (embolus). Cerebral thrombosis, cerebral haemorrhage and cerebral embolism are the three medical terms used to describe these three subtypes of stroke. Common symptoms of stroke include sudden weakness of the face, arm or leg, most often on one side of the body. Tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and air pollution are the main risk factors of atherosclerosis that lead to stroke. Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs) (strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory disease) share the same risk factors. Long-term exposure to these risk factors also cause raised blood pressure, diabetes and raised blood lipids, which increase the risk of developing strokes. The more risk factors a person has, the greater is the risk of stroke. Nearly two thirds of individuals who develop a stroke die or are disabled. After a first attack of stroke, medicines are required to prevent repeated attacks. Strokes are preventable if individual action is supported by health policies that reduce exposure of people to risk factors. Governments and political leaders have a vital role to play in the prevention of stroke and other NCDs through the implementation of public health policies to control tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and air pollution.
Keywords: Air pollution, Harmful use of alcohol, Heart attacks, Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), Physical inactivity, Stroke, Tobacco use, Unhealthy diet.