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Stroke Overview

Jun 05, 2022 0 comments
Stroke Overview

If you or a loved one is suspected of having had a stroke, then you might have a lot of questions on your mind. In this article, we will try to cover the most common questions you might have about this medical condition.

Stroke Table of Content

What is Stroke?

A Stroke is a Medical Emergency where Blood Flow to Your Brain is Stopped either through a blockage or a blood vessel rupturing. When this happens Oxygen and Nutrients cannot get to your Brain Cells, causing them to die.

What Types of Strokes are There

There are three main types of strokes and they are Transient Ischemic Attack, Ischemic Stroke, and Haemorrhagic Stroke.

  • Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA) also referred to as a 'Mini Stroke' occurs when a blood clot temporarily blocks blood flow to the brain, and reverses on it's own. TIA serves as a warning that an actual stroke may happen and it is best to see your doctor.
  • Ischemic Stroke involve your brain arteries becoming narrow or blocked by blood clots or plaque.
  • Haemorrhagic Stroke occur when an an artery in the brain bursts or leaks blood, causing swelling in the brain, excessive pressure in the skull, which damages cells and tissues.

In addition, these strokes can further be broken down into:

  • Embolic Stroke
  • Thrombotic Stroke
  • Intracerebral Stroke
  • Subarachnoid Stroke

How Stroke Affects You

Depending on which brain cells die, it might affect different brain functions such as your ability to:

  • Move
  • Speak
  • Eat
  • Think and remember
  • Control your bowel and bladder
  • Control your emotions
  • Control other vital body functions

What Are the Symptoms of Stroke

Stroke symptoms vary from person to person but can include:

  • Weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg, usually on one side of the body
  • Having trouble speaking or understanding
  • Problems with vision, such as dimness or loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness or problems with balance or coordination
  • Problems with movement or walking
  • Fainting (loss of consciousness) or seizure
  • Severe headaches with no known cause, especially if they happen suddenly

Other less common symptoms of stroke may include:

  • Sudden nausea or vomiting not caused by a viral illness
  • Brief loss or change of consciousness, such as fainting, confusion, seizures, or coma
  • TIA, called a mini-stroke

Stroke FAST

Time is of the essence, and recognising the symptoms of stroke is vital to prevent permanent disability or death. An easy way to remember the signs of stroke is with FAST which stands for:

  • F - Face Drooping. When the person smiles one side of the face is numb or drooping.
  • A - Arm Weakness. When the person lifts both arms at the same time, one arm may drift downwards.
  • S - Speech Difficulty. When asked to repeat a simple sentence correctly, the person may have may slurred speech or difficulty speaking.
  • T - Time to Call 000. If a person shows any of these symptoms call for an ambulance straight away as time is of the essence.

What Causes Stroke

There are may factors that can increase your risk of of having blood to the brain blocked or blood vessels in the brain rupturing and these include:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Birth Control Pills
  • History of TIA
  • High Red Blood Cell Count
  • High Cholesterol
  • Lack of Exercise
  • Obesity
  • Excessive Alcohol
  • Illegal Drugs
  • Abnormal Hearth Rhythm
  • Cardiac Structural Abnormalities

In addition researchers have also found that the following patients are more likely to have stroke:

  • Age. For every decade over 55 years, your risk of stroke doubles.
  • Race. Africans are more likely to have stroke.
  • Gender. Stroke is more common in men.
  • Genetics. Stroke risk is increased if you have a family history of stroke.

How to Prevent Stroke

Stroke risk and danger can greatly be reduced if you take the following steps:

  • Make sure that your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels are at optimal levels.
  • Be physically active and try to exercise for 30 minutes every day.
  • Eat a healthy diet and stay within a healthy weight range.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Avoid Smoking.
  • Ensure you and everyone around you are familiar with FAST and the warnings signs of stroke.

How Stroke is Diagnosed

Stroke is diagnosed by your doctor who will check your blood pressure, listen to your heart and conduct a physical examination and evaluate you for:

  • balance
  • coordination
  • weakness
  • numbness in your arms, face, or legs
  • signs of confusion
  • vision issues

If Stroke is suspected, your doctor may order various tests to confirm such as:

  • Blood Tests looking at How fast your blood clots, cholesterol levels, platelet counts, blood sugar levels, whether you've had an infection.
  • MRI scan to see whether any brain tissue has been damaged.
  • CT scan to see if there are any signs of bleeding.
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG) to check how fast your heart beats and whether you have any heart conditions.
  • Cerebral Angiogram to see if there are any blockages in arteries of your brain or neck.
  • Carotid Ultrasound to see if any fatty deposits are in your arteries supplying blood to your neck, face and brain.
  • Echocardiogram to find whether you have clots in your heart.

Stroke Medicines

Treatment depends on the type of stroke you have and in general one or more of the following medications may be prescribed by your doctor:

  • Anticoagulants such as Warfarin
  • Antiplatelets such as Aspirin
  • Blood Pressure Medicines.
  • Cholesterol Medicines.
  • Diabetes Medicines.
  • Heart Medicines.

Surgery For Stroke

In addition to medicines, your prescriber may refer you for a surgical procedure:

  • Carotid Endarterectomy to remove plaque and clots in arteries in your neck.
  • Carotid Stenting where metal coil is placed in the artery in your neck.
  • Surgery to repair aneurysms and artery walls at risk of bursting and bleeding into the brain.
  • Surgery to close Patent Foramen Ovale, the opening that occurs between the walls between the 2 upper chambers of the heart.

Living with Stroke

How stroke affects you will depend on the part of the brain that is damaged. Most people that have stroke are left with paralysis of one of their arms, and may have difficulty with certain tasks such as Cooking, Eating, Drinking, Dressing, Showering and going to the Bathroom. Fortunately, there are many disability aids that can make living with stroke easier such as:

In addition, you may be eligible to get funding form the Government to help with things such as:

  • Personal care: things like showering and dressing
  • Health care: things like wound care and medication management
  • Housework: things like meals and cleaning
  • Home maintenance: things like changing light bulbs and mowing lawns
  • Respite care: providing a break for carers.

For further information please visit: https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/

Stroke References

  • Holland, K. (2018). Stroke Overview. [online] Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/stroke.
  • www.hopkinsmedicine.org. (n.d.). Stroke. [online] Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/stroke.
  • enableme. (n.d.). Resources. [online] Available at: https://enableme.org.au/resources/ [Accessed 5 Jun. 2022].

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