STROKE: Symptoms, treatment and prevention
Stroke symptoms should be early enough so that you can fight it. Furthermore, stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. within minutes, brain cells begin to die.
Furthermore, a stroke is a medical emergency, prompt treatment is crucial, early action can minimize brain damage and potential complications.
The good news is that strokes can be treated and prevented, and many fewer Americans die of stroke now than in the past.
Watch for these signs and symptoms if you think you or someone else may be having a stroke. Pay attention to when the signs and these stroke symptoms begin. The length of time they have been present can affect your treatment options:
- Trouble with speaking and understanding.You may experience confusion. You may slur your words or have difficulty understanding speech.
- Paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg.You may develop sudden numbness, weakness or paralysis in your face, arm or leg. This often happens just on one side of your body. Try to raise both your arms over your head at the same time. If one arm begins to fall, you may be having a stroke and that’s one of the stroke symptoms. Also, one side of your mouth may droop when you try to smile.
- Trouble with seeing in one or both eyes.You may suddenly have blurred or blackened vision in one or both eyes, or you may see double.
- A sudden, severe headache, which may be accompanied by vomiting, dizziness or altered consciousness, this is one of the stroke symptoms.
- Trouble with walking.You may stumble or experience sudden dizziness, loss of balance or loss of coordination. This also one the stroke symptoms.
As ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes have different causes, both require different forms of treatment.
It is not only important that the type of stroke is diagnosed quickly to reduce the damage done to the brain, but also because a treatment suitable for one type of stroke may be harmful when treating different type.
Ischemic strokes are caused by arteries being blocked or narrowed, and so treatment focuses on restoring an adequate flow of blood to the brain.
Treatment starts with drugs that break down clots and prevent others from forming. Aspirin can be given, as can an injection of tissue plasminogen activator (TPA). TPA is very effective at dissolving clots but needs to be injected within 4.5 hours of stroke symptoms starting.
Emergency procedures include administering TPA directly into an artery in the brain or using a catheter to physically remove the clot. Research is still ongoing as to the benefit of these procedures.
There are other procedures that can be carried out to decrease the risk of strokes or TIAs. A carotid endarterectomy involves a surgeon opening the carotid artery and removing any plaque that might be blocking it.
Alternatively, an angioplasty involves a surgeon inflating a small balloon in a narrowed artery via catheter and then inserting a mesh tube called a stent into the opening. This prevents the artery from narrowing again.
Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by blood leaking into the brain, so treatment focuses on controlling the bleeding and reducing the pressure on the brain.
Treatment can begin with drugs given to reduce the pressure in the brain, control overall blood pressure, prevent seizures and prevent sudden constrictions of blood vessels.
If an individual is taking blood-thinning anticoagulants or an antiplatelet medication like warfarin or clopidogrel, they can be given drugs to counter the effects of the medication or blood transfusions to make up for blood loss.
Surgery can be used to repair any problems with blood vessels that have led or could lead to hemorrhagic strokes. Surgeons can place small clamps at the base of aneurysms or fill them with detachable coils to stop blood flow and prevent rupture.
If the hemorrhage is caused by arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), surgery can also be used to remove them if they are not too big and not too deep in the brain. AVMs are tangled connections between arteries and veins that are weaker and burst more easily than other normal blood vessels.
Strokes are life-changing events that can affect a person both physically and emotionally. After a stroke, successful recovery will often involve specific therapies and support, such as:
- Speech therapy:This helps with any problems producing or understanding speech. Practice, relaxation, and changing communication style can all help.
- Physical therapy:This can help a person relearn movement and co-ordination. It is important to stay active, even if it is difficult at first.
- Occupational therapy: make use of this to help a person to improve their ability to carry out routine daily activities, such as bathing, cooking, dressing, eating, reading, and writing.
- Support groups:These help with common mental health problems such as depression that can occur after a stroke. Many find it useful to share common experiences and exchange information.
- Support from friends and family:The people closest to a person should offer practical support and comfort after a stroke. Letting friends and family know what they can do to help is very important.
The best way to prevent a stroke is to address the underlying causes. one can achieve through lifestyle changes, including:
- eating a healthy diet
- maintaining a healthy weight
- exercising regularly
- not smoking tobacco
- avoiding alcohol or drinking moderately
Eating a nutritious diet means including plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Be sure to eat little or no red or processed meat and limit intake of cholesterol and saturated fats. Minimize salt intake to support healthy blood pressure.
Other measures taken to help reduce the risk of stroke include:
- keeping blood pressure under control
- managing diabetes
- treating obstructive sleep apnea
As well as these lifestyle changes, a doctor can help to reduce the risk of future ischemic strokes through prescribing anticoagulant or antiplatelet medication.
In addition, the use of arterial surgery can also help to lower the risk of repeat strokes.
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