Andrew Marr: Why Do Strokes Happen?

With the news of BBC political correspondent Andrew Marr suffering a stroke earlier this week, we question why this health issue occurs in people who appear to lead a healthy lifestyle?

Marr, a man in his 50’s, is a fitness enthusiast that runs and frequently cycles and so isn’t a typical candidate for a cerebral vascular accident (CVA). Strokes are perhaps misconstrued as a health concern of elderly people, smokers and the overweight.

So how may this have happened to Andrew Marr? Well it all depends on the type of stroke he had, information, which is yet to be released by his doctors.

There are two types of CVA:

Ischaemic, this is the most common form of stroke, affecting 80% of all victims. This is where blood clots stop the flow of blood to the brain. These clots form in the areas where arteries are narrowed or blocked by fatty cholesterol-containing deposits known as plaques.

The main causes for ischaemic strokes are:

• A person smoking
• Having high blood pressure
• Being considered obese
• High cholesterol levels. These are usually the result of a high salt diet.
• A history of heart disease or diabetes running in the family
• A regular consumption of a lot of alcohol, this factor can also bring on the previously mentioned conditions.

An irregular heartbeat is a large factor to the cause of ischaemic strokes. This can be down to issues with the heart such as cardiomyopathy, which is wasting of the heart muscle or mitral valve disease, which is disease of the heart valve. Excessive intake of alcohol and drinking too much caffeine can also contribute to an irregular heartbeat.

Hoemorrhagic, this is where a weakened blood vessel in the brain bursts and causes bleeding into the brain or on the brain’s surface. The main cause for this type of stroke is high blood pressure that can result in the weakening of the arteries in the brain and can potentially make them rupture.

Factors that can bring on a hemorrhagic stroke are:

• Being obese or overweight
• Drinking a large quantity of alcohol
• Smoking
• Lack of exercise
• Stress

So as you can see there are many potential ways someone who appears healthy can have a stroke. Stress due to a demanding job, can raise the blood pressure level and provoke this health issue. They may also have a history of high blood pressure or high cholesterol in their family. This increases the risk of blood clots, which can lead to a haemorrhage. A previous history of heavy alcohol and smoking can also increase a person’s chances of a stroke, even if they have given up.

Until more information on Marr’s condition is released, we are uncertain of what type of condition he suffered from; we wish him a speedy recovery however and hope to see him back on his feet again soon.


10896 Published January 2013

Review Scheduled January 2014