Stroke is a disease that has an impact on arteries leading to and within the brain. According to recent studies, stroke is number 5 cause of disability and death in the United States. This health condition normally occurs when a blood vessel that is responsible for carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. As a result, part of the brain is not able to get the blood and oxygen it requires leading to the death of brain cells.
Stroke is a very common disease in the United States, which can cause severe problems. Therefore, it is extremely important to depict the main things every person should know about this type of health condition.
1. The Essence of a Stroke
As was mentioned above, a stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bleeds and ruptures or when there is not enough blood and/or oxygen supply to the brain. Blockage prevents oxygen and blood from reaching the brain’s tissues.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that it is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Additionally, approximately 795,000 suffer from this type of health condition. Keep in mind that your brain cells and tissues will be damaged and begin to die within a few minutes without oxygen.
2. Symptoms of a Stroke
As you already know, lack of blood flow and oxygen in the brain causes brain tissues to be damaged. A person will notice symptoms of a stroke in the body parts that are controlled by the damaged areas of the brain. The sooner a person starts stroke treatment, the better the outcome will be.
Thus, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the signs of a stroke. It will help you to act quickly. Symptoms include:
• Weakness in the face, leg, arms
• Inability to speak properly
• Inability to understand speech
• Difficulties with walking
• Loss of coordination and balance
• Severe headache without a cause
Cardiologists emphasize on the fact that a stroke requires immediate medical assistance. Timely treatment is vital to preventing brain damage, long-term disability or even death. Do not attempt to manage it by yourself as it would be much safer to call 911.
Studies show that men are less likely to encounter a stroke than women. Generally, both men and women have the same symptoms of a stroke. However, there are additional symptoms that occur more often in women and they are as follows:
• General weakness
• Shortness of breath
• Confusion and disorientation
• Sudden behavioural changes
In addition to all the aforementioned, it should be also said that women are more likely to die from a stroke than men. Men are more prone to encounter it in their younger years. Men that experience it might have dropping on one side of the face and uneven smile. Even though there are symptoms of this accident that differ between men and women, it is equally important to be able recognize them and act accordingly.
3. Causes of a Stroke
Cardiologists say that causes of a stroke depend on the type of stroke. Specialists differentiate between three main types of strokes such as transient ischemic attack (TIA), ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke.
A temporary blockage in an artery that leads to the brain normally leads to a TIA. In this case, a blood clot restricts blood from flowing to certain parts of the brain. This type of condition normally lasts between a few minutes up to a few hours. Then, a blockage disappears and blood flow is restored.
An ischemic stroke is also caused by a blockage in an artery that leads to the brain. Although, this blockage can be a result of a blood clot or atherosclerosis. This condition involves a buildup of plaque on the walls of a blood vessel. A blockage of the flow of blood happens when a piece of the plaque breaks off and lodges in an artery, causing an ischemic stroke.
When it comes to a hemorrhagic stroke, it can be caused by a burst or leaking blood vessel. As a result, blood seeps around and into the tissues of the brain, creating pressure and damaging brain cells.
4. Stroke Treatment
Thorough medical assessment and timely treatment are extremely important for recovering from this health condition. The American Heart Association claims that “time lost is brain lost”. If you notice symptoms of a stroke, you should immediately seek a specialist’s help.
A type of stroke normally determines the treatment methods. You can learn more here about different types of treatments that neurosurgeons use to sure strokes.TIA and ischemic stroke is generally treated with the use of over-the-counter aspirin. In addition to that, you should take antiplatelet and anticoagulant drugs within 24 and 48 hours after you noticed the first symptoms.
You can also make use of clot-breaking drugs that have the ability to break up blood clots in your brain’s arteries. It will help to stop a stroke and reduce the damage to the brain. Such drugs are considered the gold standard in ischemic stroke treatment. Patients, who receive clot-breaking drugs have more chances to recover from a stroke and are less likely to have long-term disability because of a stroke.
If your doctor manages to find where artery walls have weakened, he/she will be able to inflate the narrowed artery and support the walls of the artery with a stent. There are also cases when the aforementioned treatment methods do not work. Thus, a surgery will be required for the purpose of removing a blood clot from the arteries.
Hemorrhagic strokes required different treatment approaches. The main treatment goal of hemorrhagic stroke is to make your blood clot. Therefore, your cardiologist will give you a medication aimed to counteract any blood thinners you take. Along with that, your doctor can prescribe medication that will reduce blood pressure as well as pressure in your brain and prevent blood vessel constriction.
If your specialist discovers an aneurysm that has not started bleeding yet, he/she will place a tiny clamp at the base of the aneurysm. This has to be done in order to prevent potential broken blood vessels or new bleeding.
If the aforementioned treatment ways do not help, a surgeon will perform a surgery aimed to clip the aneurysm and prevent additional bleeding. For the purpose of relieving pressure from the brain after a large stroke a craniotomy might be needed.
5. Risk Factors for a Stroke
There are numerous risk factors that increase the likelihood of a stroke. These risk factors include:
• Diet: if you consume foods that are high in salt, saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol, your chances of encountering a stroke increase
• Lack of activity: your risk of getting exposed to a stroke increases if you do not exercise on a regular basis
• Alcohol and tobacco consumption: normal dosage of alcohol for men is two drinks per day and one drink per day for women. Everything more than that rises blood pressure levels. Because of the fact that tobacco damages blood vessels and heart, use of tobacco in any form increases the likelihood of having a stroke.
• Genetics : if any of your family member used to experience a stroke, then you are at a higher risk of having it too
• Age: older people are more prone to encountering this health condition
If you are extremely concerned about your specific risk factors, it is advised to talk to a professional cardiologist.