Strokes – It’s Crippling Effects
A stroke occurs when blood cannot reach a specific area of the brain due to arterial rupture or clogging of the blood vessel.
As a result, oxygen and nutrients can no longer reach brain cells (i.e., neurons), leading to tissue death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stroke is number 5 on the list of most deadly diseases in the United States. This translates to more than 795,000 cases of stroke every year.
In this article, we will briefly cover the causes, signs and symptoms, and treatment options of stroke.
Causes of strokes
Generally speaking, there are two types of stroke:
Ischemic stroke – it results from the blockage of an artery that irrigates an important area of the brain.
Hemorrhagic stroke – it results from the rupture of an artery and bleeding surrounding brain tissue.
Ischemic stroke shares similar risk factors to myocardial infarction (i.e., heart attack). These include:
- Advanced age
- Blood hypertension
- Dyslipidemia (high LDL, low HDL)
As a result, a fatty plaque known as atherosclerosis will form inside a blood vessel, precipitating the formation of blood clots that travel further down the artery and interrupts blood flow to a specific brain area.
A hemorrhagic stroke, on the other hand, results from blood leaking outside of the artery, which applies pressure to brain cells and eventually kills them.
The primary two causes of hemorrhagic stroke are:
- A ruptured aneurysm (i.e., a bulging section of the blood vessel)
- Arteriovenous malformation (an abnormal connection between arteries and veins)
Signs and symptoms of strokes
Depending on the specific area affected by blood deprivation, you can expect different signs and symptoms of a stroke.
Additionally, the faster we provide the patient with the proper care, the better their outcome is going to be.
Here are the most common signs and symptoms of stroke:
- Unilateral (i.e., one-sided) numbness or weakness (e.g., arm, face, leg)
- Trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Slurring speech
- Vision problems (e.g., double vision, blurred vision)
- Trouble walking
- Loss of balance or coordination
- Severe headache
Treatment of strokes
As mentioned above, the prompt care of patients with strokes is crucial to improve their prognosis.
According to the American Heart Association, Time is Brain (the longer we take to treat a stroke, the more damage the nerves will inflict).
The treatment of stroke depends on the specific type. For ischemic stroke, your doctor may choose the following therapies:
- Antiplatelet and anticoagulants
- Clot-breaking drugs
- Mechanical thrombectomy
For hemorrhagic stroke, the treatments will be different, including:
- Medications for blood pressure
Stroke is an extremely common condition that leads to millions of deaths every year. The advances made in the field of stroke therapy significantly improved the outcome of patients, especially when it comes to preventing irreversible damage.
Hopefully, this article managed to simplify the topic of strokes.