What is a stroke?
A stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident or CVA is when part(s) of the brain loses its blood supply thereby preventing brain tissue from getting required oxygen and nutrients; brain cells begin to die in minutes and that part of the body that the blood-deprived brain cells control stops working.
This loss of blood supply can be ischemic because of lack of blood flow, or hemorrhagic because of bleeding into brain tissue.
A stroke is a medical emergency, and prompt treatment is crucial. Early action can reduce brain damage and other complications. Otherwise the strokes can lead to death or permanent disability.
There are opportunities to treat ischemic strokes but that treatment needs to be started in the first few hours after the signs of a stroke begin. The patient, family, or bystanders, should initiate emergency response or first aid activities and call for medical services immediately.
When strokes is suspected and the family gives quick alert and attention serious damages may be prevented.
• Remember FAST if you think someone might be having a stroke:
– Face drooping
– Arm weakness
– Speech difficulty
– Time to call 9-1-1
What are the types of stroke?
• The types of strokes include:
– Ischemic stroke (part of the brain loses blood flow)
– Hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding occurs within the brain)
– Transient ischemic attack, TIA, or mini-stroke (The stroke symptoms resolve within minutes and the sufferer recovers from the effects, in some cases this may take up to 24 hours on their own without treatment. This is a warning sign that a stroke may occur shortly.)
Who is at risk for a stroke?
Certain factors can raise your risk of a stroke. The major risk factors could be discussed under two main headings and they include:
• High cholesterol
• Alcohol and illegal drug usage. Studies has found a link between alcohol consumption and drug usage and strokes
• Being obese. An unhealthy weight size increases the risk of a stroke
• Sedentary lifestyle – not getting engaged in enough physical activity can expose you to a risk of strokes
• Heart diseases. Atrial fibrillation and other heart diseases can cause blood clots that lead to stroke.
• Smoking. When you smoke, you damage your blood vessels and raise your blood pressure.
• Hormones — Use of birth control pills or hormone therapies that include estrogen can increase the risk of strokes
• A personal or family history of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)
• Age — your risk of stroke increases as you grow older. People age 55 or older have a higher risk of stroke than do younger people.
• Race and ethnicity — Africans normally have a higher risk of stroke.
• Sex — Men have a higher risk of stroke than women. Women are usually older when they have strokes, and they’re more likely to die of strokes than are men.
• Unhealthy diet
Treatment of Strokes
Strokes can be treated in a varied numbers of ways depending on the extent of the attack of the ailment on the sufferer. Its often been said that prevention is better than cure, early detention has always been the best approach to dealing with this menace! so be at alert to indication of the attack and deal with it sharply.
What are the warning signs and symptoms of a stroke?
Symptoms of stroke depend upon what area of the brain has stopped working due to the loss of its blood supply. Also noteworthy is the fact that the symptoms of ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke may be the same except that patients with hemorrhagic stroke may also complain more of headache and vomiting.
Often, sufferers of strokes may be presented with multiple symptoms including the following:
- Acute change in the level of consciousness or confusion, which is a change in mental status in which a person is not able to think with his or her usual level of clarity, confusion leads to the loss of ability to recognize people and or places, or tell time and the date.
- Partial vision loss or a temporary loss of vision in one or both eyes due to a lack of blood flow to the retina of the eye
- Double vision, which can result from impairment in any part of the vision system, including the cornea, eye muscles, lens, nerves, or the brain.
- Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
- Difficulty with balance and sensation that you, or the environment around you, is moving or spinning (vertigo)
- Acute onset of weakness or paralysis of half or part of the body
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