Brain Stroke -Symptoms, Causes, Risk Factors, Treatment and more

What is Stroke?

An insufficient blood flow to the brain can cause ischemic or hemorrhagic damage. Strokes can cause death or permanent disability, making them a medical emergency. Ischemic strokes can be treated, but they must be treated within a few hours after the first signs appear. Those who suspect a stroke should call 9-1-1 and activate emergency medical services as soon as possible.

Short-term ischemic strokes called transient ischemic attacks or ministrokes are characterized by short-lived symptoms. An emergency assessment is also necessary to reduce the risk of future strokes. Strokes that fully resolve within 24 hours are classified as TIAs.

What is the Causes of Stroke? 

There are two major causes of stroke: blocked arteries (ischemic stroke) or leaks or bursts in blood vessels (hemorrhagic stroke). Transient ischemic attacks (TIA) are temporary disruptions of blood flow to the brain that often do not cause lasting symptoms.

Cause of Ischemic stroke –

Strokes of this type are the most common type. A narrowing or blocking of the brain’s blood vessels causes severe reductions in blood flow (ischemia). The narrowing of your blood vessels is brought on by the buildup of fatty deposits in your blood vessels as well as by blood clots that travel through your bloodstream and lodge in your brain.

COVID-19 infection has been identified as a possible cause of ischemic stroke, which requires further study.

Cause of Hemorrhagic stroke –

During a hemorrhagic stroke, a blood vessel in your brain leaks or ruptures. You may suffer from a brain hemorrhage if your blood vessels are affected by various conditions. 

Some factors that contribute to hemorrhagic stroke include:

  • High blood pressure.
  • Blood thinner overtreatment (anticoagulants).
  • A weak spot in the wall of your blood vessel appears to bulge (aneurysms).
  • Trauma (for example, a car accident).
  • Deficiencies in blood vessel walls caused by protein deposits (cerebral amyloid angiopathy).
  • Causes hemorrhaging following an ischemic stroke.

The rupture of abnormal blood vessels with thin walls can also cause bleeding in the brain (arteriovenous malformation).

Cause of  Transient ischemic attack (TIA) –

Transient ischemic attacks (TIA) – also known as ministrokes – are temporary periods of symptoms similar to those of a stroke. There is no long-term damage from TIAs. During this time, your brain may experience a temporary reduction in blood supply, which may last up to five minutes.

In TIAs, clots or debris reduce or block blood flow to a part of the body’s nervous system.

If your symptoms have improved but you believe you had a TIA, seek emergency care. Symptoms alone cannot determine whether you’re having a stroke or TIA. When you have a TIA, it means your artery leading to the brain is partially blocked or narrowed. You are more likely to suffer from a full-blown stroke if you’ve had a TIA.

Symptoms of Stroke – 

Insufficient blood flow damages brain tissue. An individual suffering from a stroke will experience symptoms in the areas of their body controlled by the damaged parts of their brain.

A stroke patient’s outcome is likely to be better if they receive care as soon as possible. As a result, knowing the stroke signs can help you take action quickly. 

The following are stroke symptoms:

  • Paralysis
  • Arm, face, or leg may feel numb or weak, especially on one side of the body.
  • Difficulty understanding or speaking to others.
  • A slurred voice.
  • Lack of responsiveness, confusion, or disorientation.
  • Unusual behaviors, particularly excessive agitation.
  • The inability to see clearly in one or both eyes with blackening or blurring of vision, or double vision.
  • Trouble walking.
  • Unbalanced.
  • Dizziness.
  • Painful headache with unknown cause.
  • Seizures.
  • Vomiting or Nausea.

Strokes require immediate medical attention. In case of a stroke, call 911 or your local emergency services immediately. 

You can remember the symptoms of stroke by learning the acronym “FAST”. Doing so can help a person seek treatment sooner. 

FAST stands for:
  • Face drooping: Does the person’s face droop when they smile?
  • Arm weakness: When a person tries to expand both arms, does one arm droop downward?
  • Speech difficulty: Is the person’s speech slurred or unusual when they repeat a simple phrase?
  • Time to act: Contact the emergency services in the event of any of these symptoms.

Treatment outcomes depend on how fast you act. If they are treated promptly, there is less chance of them suffering permanent brain damage or dying.

The following outcomes can be prevented with prompt treatment:
  • Permanent Damage to the Brain
  • Permanent Disability
  • Death

It is better to be overly cautious when handling a stroke, so don’t hesitate to call 911 if you believe you are experiencing the symptoms of a stroke.

Risk factors for Stroke –

Stroke risk can be affected by a variety of factors. 

The following factors may be potentially treatable:

  • Risk factors associated with lifestyle.
  • Including overweight/obesity
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Drug use, especially cocaine and methamphetamine
Medical risk factors –
  • Include high blood pressure.
  • Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke are also risk factors.
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obstructive sleep apnea.
  • A cardio-vascular disease, such as heart failure, heart defects, heart infections, or abnormal heart rhythms, such as atrial fibrillation.
  • Family or personal history of strokes, heart attacks or transient ischemic attacks.
  • Infection with COVID-19.
Other factors that increase your risk of stroke include –
  • Age — People who are 55 years old or older have a greater risk of stroke.
  • Race — African Americans are more likely to suffer strokes than other races.
  • Sex — Compared to women, men have a higher risk of stroke. Strokes often affect women when they are older, and strokes cause them to die more often than they do men.
  • Hormones — Women who take birth control pills or hormone therapies containing estrogen are at higher risk.

Rehabilitation After Stroke –

The effects of stroke can be long-lasting, both physically and emotionally.

The following therapies and support systems are often necessary for successful stroke recovery :

Speech therapy – This helps with difficulties understanding and producing speech. With practice, relaxation, and changing your communication style, it becomes easier to communicate.

Physical therapy – Relearning movement and coordination is possible with this therapy. Although it may seem difficult at first, staying active is important.

Occupational therapy – This can improve a person’s ability to complete things like bathing, cooking, dressing, eating, reading, and writing.

Support groups –  A stroke survivor can cope with common mental health issues that follow the event, such as depression, by joining a support group. Sharing experiences and exchanging information is beneficial for many.

Support from family and friends –  During the recovery period following a stroke, close family and friends should provide practical support and comfort. The importance of telling your friends and family what they can do to help is very important.

Treatment for strokes must include rehabilitation, which is an ongoing process. It is usually possible to regain a normal quality of life with the right assistance and the support of family and friends, depending on the severity of the stroke.

Prevention of Stroke-

The best way to prevent a stroke is to know your risk factors, follow your doctor’s recommendations, and live a healthy lifestyle. These measures might prevent another stroke if you’ve had a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA). In addition, you might also benefit from follow-up care in the hospital and afterward.

The strategies for preventing strokes are similar to the strategies for preventing heart disease. 

Generally, healthy lifestyle guidelines include:

Limiting or controlling blood pressure (hypertension). To reduce your stroke risk, this is one of the most important things you can do. A TIA attack can be prevented by lowering your blood pressure after you’ve had a stroke. High blood pressure can be treated with healthy lifestyle changes and medications.

Eating a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat – It is possible to reduce the buildup of plaque in your arteries by eating less cholesterol and fat. Dietary changes alone may not be enough to lower your cholesterol, so your doctor may prescribe medication to do so.

You should stop smoking – For smokers and non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke, smoking increases the risk of stroke. You can reduce your risk by quitting smoke.

Managing diabetes can help as well – Keeping your blood sugar in a healthy range can be achieved through a healthy diet, exercise, and weight loss. Diabetes medication may be prescribed by your doctor if lifestyle factors do not control your condition.

Losing weight if you are overweight – In addition to being overweight, high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are stroke risk factors.

It is recommended to eat lots of vegetables and fruits – You may reduce your risk of stroke by eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables, and whole grains are all part of the Mediterranean diet.

Regular exercise is also important – Exercise can reduce the risk of stroke. By exercising, you can lower your blood pressure, increase good cholesterol levels, and improve your overall heart and blood vessel health. It also reduces stress, controls diabetes, and lowers blood pressure. 

Alcohol should be consumed in moderation – You are more likely to suffer ischemic strokes, hemorrhagic strokes, or high blood pressure when you consume a lot of alcohol. Drinking alcohol can also interact with other medications. It is believed, however, that drinking small amounts of alcohol every day, such as movie one drink, may lower the risk of ischemic stroke as well as the tendency for blood to clot. If you’re unsure about what’s right for you, talk to your doctor.

OSA Treatment – In case you exhibit symptoms of OSA – a condition in which you stop breathing repeatedly during sleep – your doctor may recommend a sleep study. OSA is treated with a device that delivers positive airway pressure through a mask while you sleep to keep your airway open.

Stay away from illegal Drugs. The use of cocaine and methamphetamine or common street drugs are increase the risk of a stroke or a TIA.

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