Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke - Stroke Conditions
Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke
Stroke Conditions


Having a stroke can be devastating, not just for the person affected but for family members as well.

People cope as best they can.  But if they do not have the necessary information, skills or confidence it can be hard to manage their condition.  It can be difficult to make well–informed decisions about their health, treatment or even daily life – let alone make plans for the future.

People living with stroke need information, care and support from others.


If you are affected by stroke, knowledge, skills and the right services are what put you in the driving seat in deciding what’s right for managing your condition and, most importantly, your life.


This section of the website aims to help people:

•    be better informed about their stroke condition,

•    know what support and services NICHS can provide

•    manage their condition and daily life

•   read about other local people living with the same condition

Click on the links below to read more about:

Stroke FAST campaign
TIA Life after stroke
Stroke in younger adults Caring for someone with a stroke
Our stroke support services Stroke survivors’ stories

Please note that the information on this website is not a substitute for the advice your doctors or other health care professionals may give you based on their knowledge of your condition.

What is a Stroke?

A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted. Most strokes occur when a blood clot blocks one of the arteries which carry blood to the brain.If brain cells lose their supply of oxygen from the blood, they will be damaged or will die.

The symptoms of a stroke depend on the part of the brain affected and the extent of the damage, so no two strokes are the same and recovery is different from person to person.

The symptoms of a stroke usually come on suddenly and are described by the letters F.A.S.T:


  • Facial weakness: Can the person smile? Has his/her mouth or eye drooped?
  • Arm weakness: Can the person raise both arms? Is one arm weak?
  • Speech problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
  • Time to call 999: If the person has failed any of these tests call 999 immediately.

Other symptoms include:

  • Problems with balance and co-ordination
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sudden blurred vision or loss of sight
  • Severe headache

The ‘T’ in F.A.S.T is very important as the longer the affected part of the brain is without blood, the greater the residual damage will be.

For more information download our What is a Stroke Leaflet


What is a TIA?

A transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or ‘mini–stroke’ is a set of symptoms similar to those of a stroke. It can last from a few minutes to a few hours but the symptoms disappear within 24 hours. A TIA may not cause any serious illness. 

But it can be a warning sign of a more serious stroke and always needs immediate and further medical attention. 

For more information download our What is a Transient Ischaemic Attack leaflet 

Read about rugby star, Chris Henry, who suffered from a TIA.


Life After Stroke

Every stroke is different. Each person affected by it will have different problems and different needs. The lasting effects depend on where in the brain the stroke happens and the nature of the stroke. Common effects that you may experience following a stroke include:

  • Weakness or lack of movement in leg and/or arm
  • Problems with balance and co–ordination
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Problems with vision
  • Problems thinking or remembering
  • Trouble speaking, understanding, reading or writing
  • Shoulder pain or arm pain or stiffness
  • Feeling worried or sad
  • Problems controlling your feelings
  • Incontinence

In the first few days after a stroke, care concentrates on assessment of your condition and preventing complications. Once stroke has been diagnosed, trained staff will assess the effects and work out a plan of care for you.

When they are ready, most people are keen to get home from hospital, and this is a very important motivator for recovery. But it can also be daunting for the person who has had the stroke, as well as carers and family.

No single piece of advice applies to everybody. Many people need to make adjustments after a stroke. After returning home, it is important that you receive the necessary support from your family, friends and healthcare professionals.

At Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke, we have a range of Stroke Support Services and Stroke Family Support Co–ordinators who can help you by talking things through with you and your family.

For more information download our Life after Stroke leaflet.

Stroke in Younger Adults

Stroke is often considered an illness of old age but many young people are affected too. It is estimated that a quarter of all strokes occur in people under the age of 65.

Every stroke is different and each stroke survivor will have different problems and different needs. Medically the effects of stroke are the same no matter what age you are.

The way in which you might be affected depends on where in the brain the stroke happens and the nature of the stroke.

If you are older the effects are more likely to be complicated by other age–related illnesses. A younger person may also be more physically fit before the stroke and this will help in recovery.

However coming to terms with having had a stroke can be particularly difficult for younger people, who may not have had a history of illness and certainly did not expect something so sudden and serious to happen.

For more information download our Stroke in Younger Adults leaflet.

Stroke can also occur in childhood.  For information on the clinical guidelines for stroke care in childhood and guidelines for parents of children with stroke, go to

Caring for Someone with a Stroke

When someone is recovering from a stroke he or she will often need a lot of help and support with everyday activities. Recovery starts in hospital but continues at home and can take time.

Some people will make an almost complete recovery; others will recover enough to be fairly independent and able to carry out most everyday tasks. However, some will improve only a little and will need long–term care.

No–one plans on becoming a carer and it is important that you get the right information, practical help and any emotional support you need, when you need it. Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke has a range of stroke services which are there to help you as a carer as well.

Download A Carer’s Guide to Stroke. Not all of it will apply to you, so choose the information that is most useful.


Stroke Survivors’ Stories

Stroke is a journey and NICHS’s role is to be there for the stroke survivor, their carer and their family as they make that journey, listening, understanding, advising and supporting.

If you would like to read or hear our brave and inspiring Stroke Survivor stories, please click an image below.