Stroke also referred to as “brain attack” occurs when blood flow to an area of brain is cut off, resulting in death of brain cells due to insufficient flow of oxygen. During a stroke, the patient may no longer be able to control the area of the brain such as memory and muscle.

A stroke is said to happen every 40 seconds and every 4 minutes someone dies from stroke. Stroke is reported to be the leading cause of adult disability and the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S as each year; nearly 800,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke.

 

Types of stroke are:

  • Hemorrhagic stroke

·         Ischemic stroke

  • Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) or mini-strokes

 

Causes:

Stroke is caused based on the types. For example:

Ischemic Stroke is caused by blockages or narrowing of the artery that provides blood to the brain, resulting in ischemia severely reduced blood flow. The blockages are often caused by blood clots (blood Clots can be caused by fatty deposits within the arteries called plaque), which can form either in the arteries connecting to the brain, or in other blood vessels before being swept through the bloodstream and into narrower arteries within the brain.

Ischemic stroke is the most common form of stroke, accounting for around 85% of stroke.

Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when arteries in the brain is either leaking blood or when the blood vessels is bursted. This leaked blood puts pressure on brain cells and damages them. Blood vessels can burst or spill blood in the middle of the brain or near the surface of the brain, sending blood into the space between the brain and the skull.

The ruptures can be caused by conditions such as hypertension, trauma, blood-thinning medications and aneurysms (weaknesses in blood vessel walls).

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) differs from the aforementioned kinds of stroke because the flow of blood to the brain is only briefly interrupted. TIAs are similar to ischemic strokes in that they are often caused by blood clots or other debris.

TIAs is regarded as medical emergencies just like the other kinds of stroke because, even if the blockage of the artery is temporary, they serve as warning signs for future strokes, and are indicators that there is a partially blocked artery or clot source in the heart.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over one third of people who experience a TIA may end up having a major stroke within a year if treatment is not issued. Between 10-15% will have a major stroke within 3 months of a TIA.

 

How to Diagnose a Stroke;

Strokes happen fast and will often occur before an individual can be seen by a doctor for a proper diagnosis. Stroke is said to occur if;

  1. Someone tries to smile and one side of the face droops.
  1. Someone tries to raise both their arms and one arm drift downward (arm weakness).
  2. Someone tries to repeat a simple phrase and their speech is slurred or strange (speech difficulty).

If any of the signs mentioned above are observed, contact the hospital emergency services immediately.

 

Symptoms/Signs of stroke are:

  1. Sudden one sided weakness of the face, arm or leg.
  2. Confusion or sudden trouble speaking and understanding speech.
  3. Sudden trouble seeing with one or both eyes.
  4. Pain in the hands and feet that gets worse with movement and temperature changes
  5. Experiences trouble controlling or expressing emotions.
  6. Has sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination of body systems.
  7. Experiences sudden severe headache with no known cause.

 

 

 

 

Prevention of stroke:

Up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. Some preventive measures are:

  1. Maintain healthy eating habits by eating foods low in saturated fat, sodium and added sugars, and more of fruit, vegetables, whole-grains, dried peas and beans, pasta, fish, poultry and lean meats.
  2. Engage in regular physical activity.
  3. Stop smoking and avoid second-hand smoke.
  4. Proper intake of medication as directed.
  5. Regular check of your blood pressure and proper management if it’s high.
  6. Reach and maintain a healthy weight.
  7. Reduction in your stress level.
  8. Seek emotional support when it’s needed.
  9. Go for regular medical checkups.
  10. Always read nutrition labels on packaged meals as many packaged foods are very high in sodium.
  11. Reduce your alcohol intake to the recommended levels.

 

 

Treatment of stroke:

Treatment is based on the type of stroke a patient is diagnosed to be suffering from, because the treatment suitable for one type of stroke may be harmful to someone who has had a different type.

Ischemic stroke – Treatment can begin with drugs to break down clots and prevent further ones from forming. Aspirin can be given, as an injection of a tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) to dissolve clots within 4.5 hours of stroke symptom manifestation.

Hemorrhagic stroke – Treatment usually begins with drug administration to reduce the pressure in the brain, overall blood pressure, prevent seizures and prevent sudden constrictions of blood vessels. Drugs or anti-platelet medication such as warfarin or Clopidogrel can also be given as drugs or blood transfusions to counter the effect of the anti-coagulant medication.

Strokes are life-changing events that can have effects on an individual both physically and emotionally, temporarily or permanently. After a stroke, rehabilitative activities will aid successful recovery. These activities are:

  • Speech therapy helps with problems producing or understanding speech. For example, Practice, relaxation and changing communication style, using gestures or different tones, can help.
  • Physical therapy helps a person relearn movement and co-ordination. For proper recovery, it is important to get out and about, even if it is difficult at first.
  • Occupational therapy helps a person to improve their ability to carry out routine daily activities, such as bathing, cooking, dressing, eating, reading and writing.
  • Joining a support group helps with common mental health problems such as depression that can occur as a result of stroke. Sharing common experiences and exchanging information reduces the risk of depression.
  • Support from friends and family helps to provide practical support and comfort. Help from friends and family is an important factor in the recovery process.

 

Articles By: eDokita Team

 

References:

  1. National Stroke Association. What is stroke? 2016. Web
  2. Helen Wimberley. Stroke: causes, symptoms, diagnosis, prevention and treatment. Medical News Today. 2016. Web
  3. Medline Plus. Symptoms of stroke. 2016. Web
  4. National Stroke Association. Life style changes to prevention stroke. 2015. Web