Know all about Stroke
What is a Stroke?
A stroke is a medical condition that arises when the blood supply to the brain is abruptly interrupted. When the blood supply is cut off, the part of the brain that no longer receives oxygen does not function correctly, and as a result, the brain cells are at in serious risk of dying due to lack of oxygen. While the effects of a stroke depend primarily on which part of the brain is affected, it is, indeed a very severe condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Arteries in the brain are responsible for carrying and providing oxygen to the different parts of the brain. A stroke occurs when any one of the many arteries in the brain is either blocked or ends up bursting, thus cutting off oxygen to the part of the brain that artery flows to.
Unfortunately, the signs and symptoms of a stroke are apparent only after it occurs. The symptoms can vary a great deal and can happen to almost anyone. However, there are several factors that increase the chances of having a stroke, and a stroke in relatively healthy individuals with no risk factors is highly unlikely. The good news is that several preventable steps can be taken to lessen the chances of getting a stroke.
Symptoms of Stroke
Knowing the signs of a stroke can prove to be extremely beneficial in the time of an emergency. While the symptoms of a stroke present differently in both men and women, a few symptoms are in common with both genders. One of the most common signs is a weakness in the arm, leg, or face, often felt on one side of the body.
Symptoms of Stroke in Men
There are several signs of a stroke that can be recognized on time to prevent a mishap. Research for strokes has traditionally been centered on men, which is why most of the well-known signs of strokes are typical in men. Some of the most common signs to look out for are:
- A sudden loss or disruption of vision in one or both eyes.
- A sudden paralysis, numbness, weakness of the face, arms, or legs, mostly on one side of the body.
- The sudden feeling of nausea.
- Fatigue or trouble breathing.
- Sudden and severe headache with no identifiable cause.
- Dizziness, loss of coordination or balance, trouble walking.
Symptoms of Stroke in Women
It is only in recent years where studies have shown that women experience different signs and symptoms of stroke than men. In fact, research says that women are at a higher risk of getting a stroke than men are due to a myriad of reasons. Here are some signs of stroke that are typically seen in women:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Breathing troubles
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
- General weakness
Causes of Stroke
There is no one particular cause for a stroke. Each patient who has suffered from a stroke might have a specific combination of factors that led to one. While this does not mean that the causes of a stroke are unknown, it merely means determining causes are mostly based on the patient’s history and their lifestyle.
While certain conditions that put one at risk of having a stroke can be identified in advance and treated in time, other factors, including genetic causes that cannot be changed are:
- Age: The risk of having a stroke increases with time as people grow older.
- Gender: Women are at a higher risk of having a stroke than men.
- Genetics: The risk factor of having a stroke also increases when one has any recent family history of stroke.
- Previous stroke: Those who have had a stroke already are at a higher risk of having another stroke.
- Hypertension: High blood pressure is the single most important risk factor for stroke and is the leading cause of stroke. It puts pressure on the walls of the artery and causes them to weaken.
Medical professionals emphasize on the risk factors of stroke that are based on lifestyle choices and can be combatted by switching to a healthier way of life. Some of these include:
- Smoking: Smoking causes damage to the walls of the blood vessels, which can lead to blockages.
- Diabetes: If a patient is diabetic, his risk for a stroke doubles.
- High cholesterol: High cholesterol increases the chances of a blocked artery due to the buildup of plaque.
- Obesity: Being overweight and physically inactive increases a patient’s risk of stroke.
- Heart disease: People who have any heart disease are at a higher risk for a stroke.
- Excessive alcohol intake: Drinking too much alcohol increases the chances of having high blood pressure, which in turn increases the chances of stroke.
- Sleep apnea: Having a sleep disorder can increase the chances of stroke.
Diagnosis of Stroke
In case someone is showing the early signs of having a stroke, it is imperative that one contacts emergency services immediately. A common term to identify the early signs of stroke is FAST- Face Drooping, Arm Weakness, Speech is slurred, Time to Call the Emergency.
Trained and qualifies medical personnel have the tools and the knowledge to be able to diagnose a stroke patient. The symptoms are not to be ignored even if they go away after a while. Doctors have a range of tests and tools at their disposal to be able to diagnose a patient accurately. Here are several medical tests to diagnose a stroke which a doctor will use.
Treatment of stroke
Timely treatment of stroke can save lives and also prevent a person from being disabled for life. However, treatment largely depends on what the nature of stroke is – whether it is an Ischemic Stroke or Hemorrhagic Stroke. Here is how each of these strokes can be effectively treated.A Transient Ischemic Attack or TIA is a mini-stroke which falls under the category of ischemic strokes. TIA is a temporary blood vessel blockage that lasts twenty-four hours or just for a couple of minutes. However, the symptoms are the same as an Ischemic Stroke.Ischemic Stroke and TIA are treated by removing any obstruction to restore blood flow into the brain. The recommended and approved medication for this kind of stroke is the use of Tissue Plasminogen Activator, which has to be administered within a window of three hours from the onset of stroke symptoms for it to work best. Unfortunately, only 3 to 5 % of stroke victims reach the hospital in good time for this kind of treatment, making the actual use of Tissue Plasminogen Activator to be considerably low.If the area affected by a stroke happens to bleed much, a doctor may perform a surgical operation to remove the blood while relieving pressure on the brain. Surgery usually involves opening up an artery that has been narrowed by plaque. The most common type of surgery involves a procedure of Carotid Endarterectomy, which is done to remove plaque along the carotid arteries that run along the sides of one’s neck.
Recovery from Stroke
A stroke can take a toll on the muscles by breaking the vital connection between the brain and muscles. This may lead to loss of movement and mobility and sometimes may also lead to long term disability. The saving grace is that the loss of movement and mobility may not always be permanent .Adopting various therapies and other modes of recoveries can help regain control over affected muscles. Cognitive Therapy Stroke patients may sometimes experience certain cognitive changes and emotional difficulties. This happens due to the physical changes that occur in the brain tissue, which hampers with information processing, memory, executive functioning, and other such cognitive difficulties.
The doctor may advise a patient any of the following therapies:
- Inpatient rehabilitation sessions: These sessions or programs are for patients with severe physical damage, and thus they will be required to stay in the hospital for on the clock medical care and rehabilitation.
- Outpatient physical therapy programs: These programs include the patients to remain in the hospital for a few hours. This includes rehabilitation services with less medical assistance and supervision.
- Physical therapy exercises or programs that are home-based: During these sessions, the therapist usually comes home to give sessions to strengthen and stimulate the muscles. This is usually advised after a patient is discharged from the hospital and in cases where acute care is required.