Health A-Z

What You Need to Know about Strokes

What You Need to Know about Strokes

People often relate stroke to paralysis, seizures, and the many effects on a patient. However, that's as much as they know about this condition. So, what is stroke, what are its causes and treatments, and which are the complications and preventive measures?

A stroke, also known as a brain attack, occurs when a blockage or rupture of blood flow to the brain. This blockage or rapture prevents oxygen and blood from reaching the brain tissues. It causes the brain cells in the immediate area to die because the oxygen and nutrients supply is blocked, and they can no longer survive or function.



Types of Strokes

There are five different types of strokes. They all have other causes, symptoms, risk factors, and complications. They include;

1.    Ischemic Stroke

An ischemic stroke is the most common stroke, and it happens when there is a blockage of blood supply in the blood vessels due to a blood clot. Its symptoms depend on the part of the brain that is affected. Some of the symptoms include;

·       Sudden weakness or numbness on your arms, legs, or face that happens on one side of the body

·       Difficulty in speaking and understanding people

·       Loss of vision or having double vision

·       Confusion

·       Loss of balance and coordination, dizziness, and trouble walking.

The probable causes of ischemic stroke include;

·       Atherosclerosis - This is the process where a fatty substance known as plaque collects and narrows your arteries. This slows your blood flow and can eventually cause a blockage that triggers ischemic stroke.

·       Heart attack

·       Injury to the blood vessels located in your neck

·       Arterial fibrillation

·       Heart valves complications

·       Blood clotting issues.

There are two main types of ischemic stroke. One is a thrombotic stroke that occurs when there is a blood clot in an artery supplying blood to the brain. The other is an embolic stroke that occurs when the blood clot happens elsewhere in the body and travels through the blood vessels headed to the brain. There are several risk factors for ischemic stroke. It's likely to attack people who;

·       Are 60+ years old

·       Have an irregular heartbeat

·       Have a family history of experiencing a stroke

·       Have heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol

·       Smoke.

Stroke damages your brain cells, and there are some complications related to that. The period to tend to a patient with acute stroke is very limited, and without taking fast action, complications will be involved. They include fluid build-up, bleeding or swelling in the brain, problems with understanding and memory, and seizures.

2.    Transient Ischemic Attack or Mini-Stroke

A transient ischemic attack, also known as a mini-stroke, is caused by a temporary blockage of the blood flow to the brain. Its symptoms last for a couple of minutes or a day, and they include;

·       Weakness or numbness in one side of the body

·       Loss of balance or dizziness

·       Vision problems

·       Confusion

·       Trouble understanding or talking

·       Severe headaches.

Some of the causes of TIA include age, obesity, family history of the condition, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, smoking, and arterial fibrillation. TIAs are often a sign that you might get an ischemic stroke soon, so it's essential to go for checkups to see what you can do to prevent that.

3.    Cryptogenic Stroke or Stroke with Unknown Cause

Cryptogenic stroke is a type of stroke that happens with an unknown cause. It often needs multiple tests to diagnose it as experts work on dealing with the symptoms to suppress the condition. It's a complicated and rare type of stroke.

4.    Hemorrhagic Stroke

A hemorrhagic stroke happens when there is bleeding in your brain that damages the nearby cells. Some of the symptoms of hemorrhagic stroke include;

·       High blood pressure

·       Bleeding problems

·       AVMs or abnormal blood vessels

·       Injury

·       Use of cocaine

·       Aneurysm (breaking open a weak area in your blood vessel).

There are two main types of hemorrhagic strokes. One is subarachnoid hemorrhage, which happens in the space between your skull and brain. The other is intracerebral hemorrhage; the bleeding inside the brain causes that. There are notable symptoms of hemorrhagic stroke that escalate rapidly, usually in minutes and sometimes suddenly. They include;

·       Intense headache

·       Nausea and vomiting

·       Vision complications

·       Confusion

·       Light sensitivity

·       Passing out.

Some of the risk factors of hemorrhagic stroke include attacking people who;

·       Are 65+ years old

·       Uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol

·       Have had a stroke before

·       Smoke

·       Don't exercise

·       Are obese

·       Has a family history of stroke

·       Eat unhealthy foods.

Some complications associated with hemorrhagic stroke include seizures, heart problems, permanent neurological disability, thinking and memory problems, and eating & swallowing problems.

5.    Brain Stem Stroke

Brain stem stroke happens in your brain stem. It affects both sides of your body and leaves you in a "locked-in" state where you cannot move below your neck nor speak. Some of the symptoms of brain stem stroke;

·       Dizziness, loss of balance, and vertigo

·       Slurred speech

·       Trouble breathing and blood pressure. It affects central nervous system functions

·       Double vision

·       Passing out

·       Locked-in syndrome.

Some causes of brain stem stroke include blood clots, injury to an artery because of sudden movement of your neck or head, and hemorrhages. The risk factors involved include smoking, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and arterial fibrillation.


Diagnosis and Treatments of Stroke


A stroke attacks an individual very rapidly, and there's a small window of 3 hours to seek medical attention. Some of the best diagnostic tests for stroke include;

·       Physical examination

·       CT scan

·       Carotid ultrasound

·       Echocardiogram

·       Blood test

·       MRI scan

·       Cerebral angiogram

·       Electrocardiogram.

Diagnosis for the stroke case is vital as that will determine the treatment a patient will receive. This is because the type of treatment depends on the type of stroke in question. The best treatments for stroke are;

·       TIA and ischemic stroke - Clot breaking drugs, mechanical thrombectomy, stents, and surgery.

·       Hemorrhagic stroke - Medication, coiling, clamping, and surgery.

The typical stroke medications include Direct-acting oral anticoagulants (DOACs), Anticoagulants, Statins, Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), Antiplatelet drugs, and Blood pressure drugs. You will also need some rehabilitation to recover from a stroke since there are some permanent emotional and physical effects. The rehabilitation involves therapy and support systems such as;

·       Speech therapy

·       Occupational therapy

·       Support groups

·       Physical therapy

·       Support from family and friends.



Prevention of Stroke

You can prevent stroke by working to avoid the underlying causes. There is nothing you can do about genes and family history of stroke but some of the preventive measures you can take include;

·       Eat healthily

·       Exercise regularly

·       Avoid or moderate smoking and drinking

·       Maintaining a healthy weight.


Stroke is a severe disease that leaves you with permanent effects. Preventing stroke is critical to avoid any attacks, but if you have one, then you need to keep taking your medication and accept the support for quick recovery. The different strokes can sometimes confuse someone if you see an individual experiencing the symptoms. However, always seek medical attention to save the person's life.

Always contact the best stroke treatment expert for immediate help.

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