We’ve seen it on tv – a person suddenly loses sensation on one side of the body, normally the left side, loses the ability to speak coherently, and collapses. These are the general symptoms of a stroke happening.
What is a stroke?
A stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked or ruptures (bursts). This prevents vital blood and oxygen supply reaching the tissues in the brain.
Brain cells and tissues become damaged and die within minutes from lack of oxygen supply. When a part of the brain tissue dies, the person loses the function it performs as well.
Main symptoms of a stroke:
- An uneven smile
- Difficulty understanding
- Drooping on one side of the face
- Muscle weakness on one side of the body
- Slurred speech
Types of stroke:
There are three main categories of strokes:
- Haemorrhagic stroke
- Ischemic stroke
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
These three main categories are further broken down into other types of strokes.
Treatment and recovery depends on the type of stroke a person is affected with.
This type of stroke happens when an artery in the brain bursts or leaks blood. The leaked blood exerts pressure in the skull, making the brain swell. The swelling causes brain cells and tissues to be damaged.
There are two types of Haemorrhagic strokes:
- An Intracerebral stroke is the most common type of haemorrhagic stroke. It happens when brain tissues fill up with blood after an artery bursts.
- A Subarachnoid stroke is less common, but also damaging. It happens when bleeding happens in the area between the brain and the tissues covering it.
Haemorrhagic strokes can be caused by either:
An aneurysm which is a weakening or bulging section of a blood vessel, normally caused by high blood pressure.
Arteriovenous malformation which is an abnormal connection between a person’s veins and arteries, which can cause bleeding in the brain.
This stroke happens when the arteries in the brain become narrow or blocked by blood clots. As a result, blood flow and oxygen to the brain becomes drastically reduced or blocked.
Two common types of Ischemic strokes are:
A Thrombotic stroke, which happens a blood clot becomes lodged in an artery, and blocks blood flow.
An Embolic stroke happens when a blood clot or other internal debris in the artery travels to the brain.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA):
A TIA is often referred to as a “mini stroke”. It happens when blood flow to the brain is temporarily blocked. The symptoms are similar to a full stroke, but are temporary. They can last for a few minutes or up to a few hours, after which they disappear.
As a TIA is caused by a blood clot, it should not be ignored as it is a potential warning of a future stroke. It is an emergency situation and immediate medical treatment should be given.
According to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a third of people who experience a TIA and choose not to get treated, have a major stroke within a year.
The American National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says the more risk factors you have, the more likely you will have a stroke.
Risk factors include:
- A sedentary lifestyle
- An unhealthy diet
- Excessive tobacco or alcohol consumption
- Family history of high blood pressure, heart disorder, high cholesterol, diabetes
- Race and ethnicity
- Sex – strokes happen more commonly in women than in men in all age groups
The doctor will guide you in detail on tests to undergo for diagnosis of the type of stroke. Once the type of stroke is determined, the doctor or specialist will then discuss suitable treatment options which depend on the individual’s condition.
Early emergency medical intervention is vital if you suspect you are experiencing symptoms of a stroke. Early treatment is the most effective way to reduce long term complications and permanent disability from a stroke. With therapy, medication and a change in lifestyle habits, many stroke victims manage to live a fairly good life.
Leading a healthy lifestyle to reduce most of the risk factors stated above, will lessen a person’s chances of suffering a stroke.
This article gives a general outline on strokes, which we hope is informative to our readers. The contents of this article should not be taken as medical advice.
24th October 2020 22:30
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