Medical Info

What exactly is STROKE ?

A stroke is a "brain attack". It can happen to anyone at any time. It occurs when blood flow to an area of brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.

How a person is affected by their stroke depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged. For example, someone who had a small stroke may only have minor problems such as temporary weakness of an arm or leg. People who have larger strokes may be permanently paralyzed on one side of their body or lose their ability to speak. Some people recover completely from strokes, but more than 2/3 of survivors will have some type of disability

Facts and data about  stroke

Each year nearly 800,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke.

A stroke happens every 40 seconds.

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S.

Every 4 minutes someone dies from stroke.

Up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.

Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability .

TYPES OF STROKE

There are 2 main types

1.HEMORRHAGIC STROKE-A brain aneurysm burst or a weakened blood vessel leak (hemorrhagic) is one of two types of stroke.  While the least common of the two types of stroke it most often results in death

2.ISCHEMIC STROKE-A blood vessel carrying blood to the brain is blocked by a blood clot (ischemic) is one type of stroke.

TIA(transient ischemic attack )-When blood flow to part of the brain stops for a short period of time, it can mimic stroke-like symptoms. These appear and last less than 24 for hours before disappearing (caused by temporary clot)

Symptoms

If you have symptoms of a stroke, call emergency services right away. General symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.

  • Sudden vision changes.

  • Sudden trouble speaking.

  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.

  • Sudden problems with walking or balance.

  • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.(note that all headache is not a sign of stroke so donot panic)

 

RISK FACTORS THAT CAN BE CONTROLLED

High blood pressure — High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and the most important controllable risk factor for stroke.

Cigarette smoking — In recent years, studies have shown cigarette smoking to be an important risk factor for stroke. The nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke damage the cardiovascular system in many ways. The use of oral contraceptives combined with cigarette smoking greatly increases stroke risk.

Diabetes mellitus — Diabetes is an indirect  risk factor for stroke.  Many people with diabetes also have high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and are overweight. This increases their risk even more.  

Peripheral artery disease -is the narrowing of blood vessels carrying blood to leg and arm muscles. People with peripheral artery disease have a higher risk of stroke.

Atrial fibrillation — This heart rhythm disorder raises the risk for stroke.

Other heart disease — People with coronary heart disease or heart failure have a higher risk of stroke than those with hearts that work normally.

Sickle cell disease (also called sickle cell anemia) — This is a genetic disorder that mainly affects African-American and Hispanic children.(a risk factor for stroke in children)

High blood cholesterol — People with high blood cholesterol have an increased risk for stroke.

Poor diet — Diets high in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol can raise blood cholesterol levels. Diets high in sodium (salt) can contribute to increased blood pressure. Diets with excess calories can contribute to obesity, which raises their risk of stroke

Physical inactivity and obesity — Being inactive, obese or both can increase your risk of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and stroke

 

TREATMENT

When a patient displays stroke-like symptoms, a doctor, often a neurologist (a doctor who specializes in managing strokes) must not only confirm the symptoms but also identify the type of stroke, its location, and the extent of brain damage. Treatment decisions hinge on all these issues.

It starts with managing key risk factors.

Medical treatments may be used to control risk factors. Those medicines include : Anticoagulants/Antiplatelets -Antiplatelet agents such as aspirin and anticoagulants, such as warfarin, interfere with the blood's ability to clot and can play an important role in preventing stroke.  

Antihypertensives -Antihypertensives are medications that treat high blood pressure is also used to control risk factors.

Additionally, when arteries show plaque buildup or blockage, medical procedures may be needed. Such as

Carotid endarterectomy, also called carotid artery surgery ,Angioplasty/Stents are some of them.Treatment plan varies  depending on  individual conditions .

How Can I Prevent a Stroke?

Adopt habits that promote cardiovascular health and deter atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The essentials of a healthy lifestyle include a balanced diet; controlling weight; monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol levels; limiting alcohol; and not smoking.

A few other tips to prevent stroke:

  • Get appropriate medical treatment of atrial fibrillation. This heartarrhythmia can increase the risk of stroke.

  • Get treated for sleep apnea, if you have it.

  • Learn stress management techniques.

  • Exercise.

  • Control your diabetes, if you have it.

LIving & Managing with stroke

Stroke rehabilitation begins once your condition has stabilized  as soon as 24 to 48 hours after your stroke. Early, individualized therapy helps improve your chance of recovery.