A stroke (also know as a cerebro-vascular accident, cerebral haemorrhage, cerebral infarction or apoplexy) is the sudden insensibility or bodily disablement caused by a diseased condition of the brain, when a blockage or a leak in a blood vessel interrupts the blood supply, causing the death of brain cells. The main cause of cerebro-vascular accidents is arterial hypertension.
In the USA, for example, 400,000 people suffer a stroke each year, killing about 160,000 of them. It is the third most common cause of death in the USA, after heart disease and cancer.
Cerebro-vascular accidents are more frequent in alcoholics than in non-drinkers.
Short men are more likely to have strokes than taller men. There is around a 16 percent decrease in the risk of stroke for every 10 cm increase in height.
Emotional states affected the risk of stroke. A study of more than 2,400 people over the age of 65 found that those who said that they were less depressed decreased their risk of stroke by 26 percent. Another study of 2,500 adults aged 65 and older, found that those who agreed with statements such as "I enjoyed life" and "I was happy" had as much as a 41% reduction in their risk of developing a stroke.
Poor sleep, particularly that associated with snoring and sleep apnoea, may precipitate stroke. This is because the shock of periodic oxygen starvation of the brain elevates blood pressure, a known risk factor for stroke. Nearly 40 percent of strokes happen while patients are sleeping or within an hour of their waking.