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Ambulatory blood pressure monitor (ABPM)
This is a cuff usually worn on your arm which records your blood pressure at regular intervals over a period of up to 24 hours. It is usually worn when your blood pressure readings have varied and a more accurate, overall picture is necessary.

ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors
A group of drugs used to treat high blood pressure. They help to block the hormone angiotensin which causes the blood vessels to become narrower. By stopping this hormone from working and allowing the blood to flow more freely, blood pressure is lowered. Examples of ACE inhibitors include ramipril and perindopril.

Activities of daily living (ADL)
These are everyday tasks we normally do to be independent. They include washing, dressing, using the toilet, walking and climbing the stairs.

Acupuncture
A type of complementary therapy and also a traditional form of Chinese medicine.  A qualified practitioner inserts thin, sharp needles into pressure points on the body. This is believed to adjust the energy flow within the body, which helps to reduce pain and promote healing. 

Acute stroke
The term used to describe the early stage of stroke, starting from when the symptoms begin. Treatment and care during the acute phase of stroke are crucial and will include a number of tests to confirm the diagnosis, including a brain scan.

Adaptations
Adaptations to your home can make your everyday life safer and easier, and can make it easier for you to get about and live independently. Adaptations can include ramps, rails, stair lifts and wet rooms (adapted shower rooms).

Adrenal glands
These are two small, triangular shaped glands situated above each kidney. They regulate many functions in the body including your blood pressure, and your heart and metabolic rate.

Aggregation
This is the first stage of the blood clotting process where the small, sticky blood particles called platelets combine and form a blood clot.

Agnosia
A condition where you are unable to recognise familiar things, such as objects, someone you know, sounds, shapes or smells.

Agraphia
The loss of the ability to write or draw.

Alexia
The inability to read or recognise words.

Alpha-blockers
A group of drugs used to treat of high blood pressure. They block the effects of a hormone called adrenaline which causes your blood vessels to narrow. Alpha-blockers allow your blood vessels to relax and widen, making it easier for blood to flow through them and this lowers blood pressure. They are usually only prescribed if other treatments haven’t worked.

Amaurosis fugax
This is a brief loss of vision lasting for a few seconds or minutes, which usually affects one eye only. It happens when a blood vessel in your eye becomes temporarily blocked either with a small piece of cholesterol or a small blood clot. 

Aneurysm
This is a balloon-like bulge in the wall of an artery. The walls of an aneurysm are thin and weak and so they are more likely to burst and cause bleeding in the brain (a haemorrhagic stroke).

Angina
A condition where pain in the chest occurs because the muscles of the heart aren’t getting enough oxygen. It is usually caused by narrowing or a blockage in the coronary arteries that deliver oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. This is known as coronary artery disease.

Angiography
A type of X-ray used to examine blood vessels. It can help to diagnose conditions that affect the blood vessels and the flow of blood through them. These include aneurysms, coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis (narrowing and hardening of the arteries).

Angiotensin-2 receptor blockers
A group of drugs used to treat high blood pressure. They widen the blood vessels by blocking the hormone angiotensin. Examples include candesartan and losartan.

Anosognosia
A condition where someone denies or does not recognise they have a disability.

Anticoagulant
A type of medication used to thin the blood. This helps to reduce the risk of blood clots forming and reduces the risk of stroke. Anticoagulants are usually prescribed to reduce the risk of stroke in people with a type of irregular heart beat called atrial fibrillation. Examples of anticoagulants include warfarin, dabigatran etexilate and rivaroxaban.

Anticonvulsant
A group of drugs that are used to treat or prevent seizures. They are usually prescribed to treat the condition epilepsy.

Antihypertensive
The name given to drugs that are used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension).

Antioxidants
Vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect and repair cells in the body. They can prevent damage to your arteries which increases the risk of stroke. Antioxidants are found in fruit and vegetables.

Antiphospholipid syndrome
See: Hughes syndrome.

Antiplatelet drugs
A type of blood-thinning medication. They stop the platelets in the blood sticking together and forming clots, which reduces the risk of stroke. Examples include aspirin, clopidogrel and dipyridamole.

Aorta
The largest artery in the body which carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

Aphasia
Difficulty speaking or understanding what is said to you. It is a common problem after stroke, affecting about a third of stroke survivors.

Apraxia
The inability to control and co-ordinate movements or carry out complex tasks. It can make everyday activities harder because you may not be able to do the things you need to do in the right order. For example when getting dressed you may put your shoes on before your socks.

Arrhythmia
An abnormal or irregular heart beat.

Arteries
Blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

Aspiration
Aspiration can occur when someone has difficulty swallowing after a stroke. Food or fluid can enter the lungs through the windpipe, which can then cause pneumonia or a lung infection.

Aspirin
A common painkiller which is also a type of blood-thinning medication. Aspirin reduces the stickiness of platelets in the blood, which helps to prevent blood clots from forming in the body, and so reduces the risk of stroke.   

Assistive technology
Any product or service which is designed to help people with a disability to live independently. This can include anything from walking aids to electronic devices to help you communicate.

Asteriognosis
The inability to recognise an object by touching it.

Ataxia
Ataxia is the name given to a group of neurological disorders that can affect your balance, coordination, and speech. There are many different types of ataxia and they can affect you in different ways.

Atheroma
A small fatty lump which develops inside an artery. These substances cause the artery to become harder and narrower, and increase the risk of stroke. This condition is called atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis
A condition where the arteries become clogged up by fatty substances such as cholesterol. These substances are called plaques or atheromas. This causes the arteries to become harder and narrower, and increases the risk of stroke.

Atrial fibrillation (AF)
The most common type of irregular heart beat as a risk factor for stroke. If you have AF, as well as being irregular, your heart beats very fast. This increases the chances of blood clots forming in the heart, and these clots can then travel in the blood stream to the brain and cause a stroke. It is usually treated with anticoagulant medication.

Attention span
The length of time you can concentrate on a task without becoming distracted.

Auditory agnosia
The inability to recognise specific, familiar sounds. These could include background noises, words, or even music.