A brain stroke refers to the obstruction of blood flow to reach different parts of the brain, causing depletion of nutrients and oxygen. This leads to termination of brain cells. However, timely treatment can reduce brain damage and life risk.
Although many strokes are treatable, some can lead to disability or death too.
Symptoms of a brain stroke
- An early indication of the disease includes trouble in walking, speaking or understanding.
- In some cases, it might consist of paralysis or numbness in the organs directly controlled by the brain such as an arm, leg or face. Often affects one half of the body.
- Trouble in vision as the view becomes blurred or blackened.
- Sometimes dizziness, loss of stability or even severe headaches.
- Prompt treatment can prevent acute consequences like lifetime disability, dysfunction of brain or death.
Some symptoms of a stroke might differ according to sex and age:
- Women might suffer from sudden behavioural change, lack in responsiveness, vomiting, pain or trouble in breathing.
- Men can have a drooping mouth, improper smile, difficulty in speaking & understanding, weakness or shortness of breath.
- Old age people may have coordination, communication or severe headache issues. Numbness, in one part of the body, is also a common symptom.
Methods used by doctors to recognize a stroke
Blood tests– to check blood sugar level, infection, platelet count or how fast your blood clots.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan– where MRI helps to see if any brain tissue or cell have been damaged.
CT (Computerized Tomography) scan – helps to provide a detailed picture of the brain to see any bleeding or damage in it.
ECG(Electrocardiogram)– checks upon the activity of the heart, determining if any heart problem can cause a stroke.
Doppler ultrasound– Doctors use this to find if there is any narrowing or blockage in carotid arteries, which carry blood from the heart to the brain.
Reasons leading to a Stroke
There can be different factors that might lead to a brain stroke:
- Smoking and binge drinking
- Use of psychoactive drugs
- Being obese or lethargic
- Family history of stroke
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure or cholesterol
Other general factors include old age, hormonal imbalance and consumption of reactive medicines.
Types of strokes
There are three broad categories of strokes:
87% of strokes are of this type. They happen due to the blockage in the artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the brain. Blood clots are the primary reason for obstruction in blood flow, leading to Ischemic strokes.
Ischemic strokes can be further classified into two types Thrombotic and Embolic. In a thrombotic stroke, the blood clot forms in the artery that carries blood to the brain.
And in an embolic brain stroke, the blood clot forms in another body part, generally upper body organs such as the heart, lungs or the neck.
It happens due to leakage or ruptures in the artery that carries blood to the brain. This leakage causes pressure on the brain cells, which damages them.
There are two types of hemorrhagic strokes: Intracerebral and Subarachnoid
Intracerebral occurs due to bursting of an artery in the brain, causing blood around the tissues.
Subarachnoid is the lesser common one that occurs due to bleeding in the area between the brain and the membranes that cover it.
Transient ischemic attack
It is also called a “mini-stroke.” It’s different from other brain strokes and is considered as a warning signal of a future major stroke.
Its effect may last only for a few minutes because blood flow is blocked only for a short time. Yet not getting treated in most cases leads to a significant stroke in a short duration.
Recognizing and treating it lowers the risks of a more severe stroke.
Medical treatment of a stroke
A stroke is a medical emergency, and its treatment depends upon the severity and type of Stroke:
If a person goes through a stroke due to blood clot than he/she might be given Tissue Plasminogen Activator (TPA) to dissolve the blood clot and restore the smooth functioning.
They might be given aspirin or warfarin to make the blood thin.
Doctors may also perform surgery for repairing damaged blood vessels.
Treatment also involves medications to dissolve blood clots.
Life after a stroke
A brain stroke can often give temporary or permanent disabilities that depend on the duration of blockage of blood flow. Such as:
- Paralysis to one part of the body or issues in muscle movement is most common.
- Inability to speak clearly, chew and even swallow food.
- Sometimes memory loss or thinking difficulty too occurs.
- Numbness in the affected body part may cause some unusual sensations.
Recovery after a stroke takes time, and the process is different for everyone, depending upon the severity of the Stroke. Some can recover fully, but some suffer lifelong disabilities.
Rehabilitation begins one or two days after the Stroke as it reduces the risk of another stroke.
This rehabilitation may include multiple forms of therapy:
Speech Therapy– this therapy helps in improving the understanding or speaking skills of an individual, which were affected due to a stroke.
Physical Therapy– regular stretching and exercise can help in enhancing the movement of body and muscles.
Occupational Therapy– as the name suggests, this therapy deals with improving daily activities. Occupational therapy includes:
- Cognitive Therapy– helps in improving mental health, that includes thinking, acting and reasoning skills.
- Relearning Sensory skills– in some cases, it might happen that due to a stroke a person might have suffered a reflex action loss or dullness, like being able to feel a touch, temperature or pain. This therapy helps in improving sensory functions.
Therapies and medicine may help in fighting the depression or disturbed mental health, but regular support from family and friends goes a long way giving a morale boost, confidence and a sense of being loved.
Prevention of a stroke
Controlling hypertension or high blood pressure is the key to preventing a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) or stroke.
Reducing the intake of saturated fat and trans fats in the diet may help in reducing the buildup of cholesterol in your arteries, making them more fluent.
Managing weight and indulging in physical activities will reduce the risk of a stroke and even promote positivity and healthier lifestyle.
Avoiding psychoactive and un drugs will undoubtedly lower the risk of a TFA (Transient Ischemic Attack) or Stroke.
Easiest things to digest are raw foods or foods directly from nature. Therefore, having a diet full of veggies and fruits may help in the prevention of a stroke.
If one ever experiences symptoms of a stroke, then they should immediately seek medical treatment.
Medications can only cure during the first hours, helping to avoid severe consequences like permanent disability or even death.
Although maintaining a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of a stroke, the medications are essential after a stroke or a “mini-stroke.”