What is a Stroke?
Stroke risk study explains the underlying cause of stroke. A stroke occurs when the blood flow is blocked to a part of the brain. Brain cells are then deprived of oxygen and start dying. As brain cells die, brain function is lost and you may not be able to do things that are controlled by that part of the brain. People experience weakness or paralysis, and stroke may affect your ability to Move, Speak, Eat, Think and remember, Control your bowel and bladder, Control your emotions and Control other vital body functions.
What are the Causes of Stroke?
The brain is the most delicate organ of the body; the brain contains more than ten billion nerve cells, which are in constant communication to produce our every thought, movement, and sensation. The brain receives a steady supply through a complex system of arteries, as it depends on oxygen and glucose for energy. When any part of the brain is deprived of oxygen for even a few seconds, delicate neuron functions is obstructed.
If this persists longer than few minutes then the brain is damaged. As brain cells die, brain function is lost and this condition is called ischemia, a lack of oxygen mainly caused by artery blockage. Further damage is inflicted on brain tissue, as oxygen starvation triggers deadly chemical reactions and it results in a stroke. A stroke also occurs when blood vessels rupture, flooding the brain with blood, which blocks connecting pathways. This disrupts chemical and electrical flows to the muscles and causes injury to the brain tissue.
- People with a bad temper are more prone to suffer a stroke.
- Walking reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease.
What are the Symptoms of a Stroke?
When there is loss of blood flow to the brain damages tissues then the symptoms of a stroke show up in the body parts. There is evidence that if a stroke is treated in the first few hours, the damage can be minimized so when symptoms appear, the patient needs to go as quickly as possible to a hospital emergency ward.
- Sudden weakness, numbness.
- Paralysis especially on one side of the body of the face, arm, or leg.
- Sudden blurred or dimmed vision, particularly in one eye; an episode of double vision
- Difficulty speaking or understanding even simple sentences
- Unexplained dizziness or loss of balance or coordination, especially when combined with another symptom
- Sudden, unexplained, and intense headache—often described as “the worst headache ever”
- Brief unconsciousness
- confusion, convulsions and coma
What are the Different Types of Stroke?
Strokes fall into three main categories:
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA) – These symptoms may appear for a very short period of time and then disappear and these episodes are known as TIAs or transient ischemic attacks. Do not ignore them, as they can indicate serious stroke risks and a full stroke may follow.
- Ischemic stroke – During an ischemic stroke, the arteries supplying blood to the brain narrows or gets blocked. These blockages are caused by blood clots or blood flow that’s severely reduced.
- Hemorrhagic stroke – A hemorrhagic stroke happens when an artery in the brain ruptures or flooding the brain with blood. The blood from that artery creates excess pressure in the skull and swells the brain which damage brain cells and tissues. There are two types of hemorrhagic strokes, which are intracerebral and subarachnoid.
These categories are further broken down into other types of strokes, including:
- Embolic stroke – An embolic stroke is when a blood clot forms in another part of the body and then travels to the brain. Then the clot gets stuck in the arteries of the brain, where the flow of blood is blocked and causes a stroke.
- Thrombotic stroke – A thrombotic stroke happens when a blood clot forms in one of the arteries supplying blood to the brain. The clot passes through the bloodstream and gets stuck, which blocks the blood flow.
- Intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke – An intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke, the most common type of hemorrhagic stroke, happens when the tissues surrounding the brain fill with blood after an artery burst.
- Subarachnoid hemorrhagic stroke – It causes bleeding in the area between the brain and the tissues.
What are the Lifestyle Risk Factors and the Medical Risk Factors for Stroke?
- High blood pressure can lead to stroke because it damages blood vessels slowly over time and triggers the formation of clots in the blood vessels in the brain.
- Too much cholesterol in the bloodstream can cause a buildup of plaque in the blood vessels, which can lead to blood clots.
- Smoking is a risk factor for a stroke because it can cause a buildup of plaque in arteries and the accumulation of plaque can cause blood clots, which reduces blood flow to the brain.
- People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are also prone to get a stroke.
- Heart valve defects and enlarged heart chambers and irregular heartbeats are linked to stroke risk.
- An unhealthy diet increases your risk of stroke could be salt, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol.
- Lack of exercise can also raise your risk for stroke.
- Your risk for stroke also increases if you drink too much alcohol. Alcohol consumption should be done in moderation. This means no more than one drink per day for women, and no more than two for men.
- Using tobacco in any form is a risk factor for a stroke, as it can damage your blood vessels and heart.
What are the complications of stroke?
Every stroke is different, and strokes can affect individuals in different ways. However, the effects may range from mild to severe. The area of the brain in which a stroke occurs determines which bodily functions are obstructed. A common affliction is weakness or paralysis of the upper and lower limbs. Generally, right-brain damage results in left-sided paralysis, and left-brain damage, results in right-sided paralysis.
- Survivors experience seizures, resulting in episodes of uncontrolled movements and unconsciousness.
- The sensation of limb movement is lost.
- After a Stroke, they may have double vision and problems with swallowing.
- If the sensory centers of the mouth and the throat are damaged, the stroke victims suffer the problem of drooling.
- Any of the five senses can be affected which results in disturbances in sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.
- Many stroke victims suddenly lose their ability to speak.
- Being unable to communicate thoughts, feelings, hopes, and fears—figuratively being isolated from friends and family—is one of the most devastating effects of stroke.
- They will be facing Emotional and Personality Changes like inappropriate mood swings, outbursts of tears or laughter, extreme anger, overwhelming sadness.
What is the purpose of rehabilitation post-stroke?
Most of today’s post-stroke rehabilitation supports the notion that if one area of the brain is damaged, other centers can assume the role of the injured tissue. One purpose of therapy is to both bring out the potential of these uninvolved centers and provide the stimulation to permit the brain to reorganize and adapt. However, recovery depends on factors such as the severity of the stroke, the general health of the individual, the quality of medical care, and the support of others. Some experience significant recovery in their rehabilitation, but others indeed attain only a small amount of success in regaining pre-stroke abilities.
What are the Stroke Preventive Measures?
We can’t always control our family history or health, but we can take certain steps to reduce stroke. The only way to deal with stroke is to prevent it. The following are some stroke preventive measures:
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Quit smoking.
- Be active.
- Get annual physicals.
To help minimize the damage caused by stroke, you must seek immediate medical help at the first warning sign.
How is a Stroke Diagnosed?
- Blood tests can determine your blood sugar levels, if you have an infection, your platelet levels, how fast your blood clots.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) will help see if any brain tissue or brain cells have been damaged.
- A computerized tomography (CT) scan will provide a detailed and clear picture of your brain that shows any bleeding or damage in the brain. It may also show other brain conditions that could be causing your symptoms.
- electrocardiogram (EKG) records the electrical activity in the heart, measuring its rhythm and recording how fast it beats. It can determine if you have any heart conditions that may have led to strokes, such as a prior heart attack or atrial fibrillation.
- If you’ve had a stroke your doctor may ask you to get a cerebral angiogram. This offers a detailed look at the arteries in your neck and brain. The test can show blockages or clots that may have caused symptoms.
- A carotid ultrasound, also called a carotid duplex scan, can show fatty deposits (plaque) in your carotid arteries, which supply the blood to your face, neck, and brain. It can also show whether your carotid arteries have been narrowed or blocked.
- An echocardiogram can find sources of clots in your heart. These clots may have travelled to your brain and caused a stroke.
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