Stroke: Causes, Symptoms, 9 Best Treatments & more
A stroke usually occurs as a result of damage to the blood vessels in your brain which can be due to multiple reasons and it can also cause bleeding inside the brain.
This bleeding and damage can end up reducing blood and oxygen supply to your brain tissues which in turn reduces your overall functioning.
Due to decreased blood and oxygen supply to your brain, its tissues and cells start dying with in a few minutes.
Let us see how stroke affects your body and what can you do to minimise those effects.
Main 3 Types of Stroke
There can be multiple factors leading towards a stroke and finding the type of stroke depends on those factors.
Types of stroke are very important in the treatment and recovery process.
Here are some types of stroke discussed below.
1. Ischemic Stroke
Ischemic strokes are those in which the carotid artery that supplies your brain with oxygen-rich blood gets blocked, thus blocking the blood and oxygen supply.
It is the most common type of stroke as 87% of all the strokes are Ischemic strokes, according to the American Heart Association.
Every year UAE sees around 10,000 to 12,000 strokes and it is the most common cause of illness and also lies in the top three reasons for death.
These are often caused due to blood clots that result in the blockage of blood to your brain cells.
2. Hemorrhagic Stroke
Hemorrhagic strokes occurs as a result of damage to the brain artery in such a way that it gets open and bleeds.
After bleeding, the blood clots and puts pressure on the surrounding brain tissues, causing further trauma to the brain cells and tissues around.
It can be caused due to other illnesses like blood pressure and aneurysms which can stretch and rupture the blood vessels. It’s different types include,
It results form the bursting of arteries in the brain, causing accumulation of blood in the brain tissues around that area. It is the most common type of hemorrhagic stroke.
It results from the bursting of arteries in the brain and causes accumulation of blood in the area between your brain and the thin layer of tissues that surrounds it.
3. Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
This type of stroke is different from the other due to that fact that blockage of blood only occurs for usually less than 5 minutes. It is also referred as mini-stroke.
Future strokes can be predicted by a TIA.
It is not possible to find if a stroke is major or minor type. So, you shouldn’t delay if you feel any stroke symptoms; it is a medical emergency just like a major stroke.
One-third of the people who do not get treatment after TIA have a major stoke within 1 year. Moreover, it can either affect the whole or part of the brain.
What Causes a Stroke?
Strokes result as a consequence of either blockage of blood and oxygen to the brain tissues or due to damage of arteries resulting in bleeding in the brain area.
There are different causes for each type of stroke.
Researches supported that the rate of death in men is greater than in females. But the review of these studies reflect that the role of age and other demographic factors is more than the gender.
Causes of a Stroke
Causes of stroke include other than the above discussed and these are as following,
- Obesity or overweight
- Age more than 50 years
- Family history of stroke
- Diabetes mellitus
- High blood pressure
- Having heart diseases or vascular diseases
There are many risk factors for stroke. A few potential risk factors which are treatable include,
- Using drugs
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Heavy consumption of alcohol
- High cholesterol
- Sleep apnea
- Overall health history
It is important to identify the important symptoms of stroke as it can cause health problems in long term.
Early identification of symptoms can prevent the situation from getting worse and can be helpful in more effective treatments.
Stroke symptoms usually appear without a warning, but it is important to note the time of initiation of the symptoms.
Other Common Symptoms
Some of the main symptoms of stroke include,
- Confusion and loss of awareness which may include problems in comprehension and speech
- Nausea or vomiting
- Inability to move one or more parts of body including arms, legs, parts of face usually on one side of the body
- the difficulty is seeing things from either one or both eyes
In some cases, people can also face symptoms like,
- loss of control over urine or stools
- psychological effects including depression and anxiety etc
- problems in regulating their emotions
The word FAST can be easy in remembering the symptoms of stroke and getting immediate treatment for it and are the warning signs. Following describe the word FAST,
- Face drooping. The face drops to one side upon smiling resulting in asymmetry in facial features.
- Arm and leg weakness. The difficulty in raising or moving one or both arms and legs. Even if they are able to hold it up, it drifts downward immediately.
- Speech problems. Difficulty in repeating the sentences or producing appropriate speech and the speech features getting affected which makes it difficult for others to understand.
- Timely seeking help. If you are facing any of the symptoms, it is important to contact the emergency services right away.
The effects of stroke are highly dependent on your efficiency to receive the treatment. As quick care reduces chances for brain damage or even death so, reporting your symptoms to emergency services can prove very vital.
Diagnosis of Stroke
Stroke starts suddenly so, it is important to get admitted in a hospital to begin the process of treatment within 3 hours after symptoms appear.
The doctor may use a variety of tests to find the type of stroke and the brain site affected by it.
This will include questions related to the events that led to stroke, you symptoms and activity level at that time.
The doctor will also take brief medical history from your attendant to find out more relevant risk factors and this might include questions about,
- Medications you are currently taking
- Monitoring your blood pressure
- Analysing your pulse and heartbeat
Your doctor may also do a physical examination to diagnose your stroke more perfectly and this examination might include evaluation of,
- Coordination of your body parts
- Signs of weakness and lethargy
- Reduced or complete numbness in your face, arms or legs
- Problems in visions
- Startled or confused
The doctor may also recommend single or multiple tests to make a proper diagnosis of stroke. Following are some of these tests,
- Blood tests include taking samples of blood from your body and help to determine your blood sugar level, cholesterol, infection level and how fast of your blood clots.
- MRI and CT scan both are very important in assessing the structural and functional problems in brain after stroke. MRI indicates serious damages caused to brain and its tissues. While a CT scan provides a clear image of your brain showing any bleeding or rupture at the affected site of brain.
- Electrocardiogram (EKG) can also be recommended to find out if the reason for stroke is of cardiovascular nature.
- Cerebral angiogram can also be recommended to assess the arteries in your neck and brain more deeply. It can also show the narrowing or blocking of arteries, if any.
- Echocardiogram play an important role in diagnosis as it gives detailed image of the heart and provides doctor to check the sources for clot production in heart which has the potential to travel to the brain.
Can Stroke be Cured?
Detailed diagnostic evaluation and emergency treatment are very significant in curing stroke.
So, doctors highly recommend calling an emergency helpline as soon as your loved one or any other person around you starts showing any warning signs and symptoms of stroke
In case of stroke, time lost is brain lost so, prompt treatment has a key role in its cure.
Treatment of stroke is highly dependent on the type of stroke.
Ischemic Strokes and TIA Treatment
The treatment for the type of stroke including blockage of blood to the brain, either by blood clot or any other reason, includes,
- Anticoagulants and anti-platelets are advised to be taken within 24 to 48 hours post stroke. However, initial medication used as a protection from stroke usually involves intake of aspirin.
- Clot breaking drugs are very helpful in breaking blood clots in your brain, they not only stop stroke but also help in recovering from the damage caused due to it.
- Mechanical thrombectomy is the most successful way to get rid of a clot but only if it performed within 24 hours after stroke. The procedure involves insertion of a catheter into large blood vessel in your head and then slowly pulling out the clot.
- Stents involve a procedure to increase the width of your narrowed arteries, in way that it provides support to the artery walls for better flow of blood and oxygen.
- Surgery is rarely performed as a treatment to stroke because it involves the removal of blood clot either by a catheter or in some cases your doctor might open an artery to remove a larger clot.
Hemorrhagic Strokes Treatment
The treatment in cases of bleeding or leakage of the blood arteries in brain is quite different from the other treatment.
- Medications play an important role in helping the blood to clot as compared to the Ischemic stroke which involves use of blood-thinning medications.
- Clamping is essential in stopping blood from an aneurysm which has stopped bleeding or haven’t started yet. It involves clamping at the base of aneurysm to stop bleeding or prevent from future bleeding.
- Craniotomy helps in reducing and relieving the brain from pressure caused by damage in arteries of brain.
As stroke affects the brain area and the damage to the brain area results in illnesses like seizures and also results in problems in overall functional abilities. So, along with treatment for stroke, you also require rehabilitation services for speech, dysphagia, cognition and therapies like physical and occupational therapies.
Prevention of stroke is possible in either cases of first or second stroke and can reduce the risk. So, regular check ups play an important role in identifying the reasons that may lead to a stroke.
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