Stroke is simply an attack which occurs in the brain, it can occur at any time. This usually occurs when there is rupture or cut in the blood flow to an area of the brain. As a result, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.
Types of Stroke
A hemorrhagic stroke results when a blood vessel in your brain ruptures or breaks, spilling blood into the surrounding tissues.
Haemorrhagic Strokes are of two types:
An aneurysm, which causes a portion of the weakened blood vessel to balloon outward and sometimes rupture.
And arteriovenous malformation, which involves abnormally formed blood vessels. If such a blood vessel ruptures, it can cause a haemorrhagic stroke.
Transient Ischemic Attack
Medically, a transient ischemic attack (TIA) is also known to be a ministroke (warning). A clot that temporarily blocks blood flow to your brain causes a TIA. The blood clot and TIA symptoms last for a short period of time.
This happens when a blood clot keeps blood from flowing to the brain. The blood clot is often due to atherosclerosis, which is a piled-up of fatty deposits on the inner lining of a blood vessel. A portion of these fatty deposits can break off and block blood flow in the brain.
The concept is similar to that of a heart attack, where a blood clot blocks blood flow to a portion of your heart. 87 percent of strokes are ischemic.
Ischemic stroke can be embolic, making the blood clot travels from another part of your body to the brain. An estimated 15 percent of embolic strokes are due to a condition called atrial fibrillation, where the heart beats irregularly.
A thrombotic stroke is an ischemic stroke caused by a clot, forming in a blood vessel in the brain. Unlike a TIA, the blood clot that causes an ischemic stroke will not disappear without treatment.
Risk Factors of Stroke
• High blood pressure,
• High cholesterol,
• Diabetes, and
• Increasing age.
Heart conditions like atrial fibrillation, patent foramen ovale, and heart valve disease can also be the potential cause of stroke.
When it occurs in younger individuals (less than 50 years old), less common risk factors to be considered include illicit drugs, such as cocaine or amphetamines, ruptured aneurysms, and inherited (genetic) predispositions to abnormal blood clotting.
Causes of Stroke
NOTE: different forms of stroke have different specific causes.
Causes of hemorrhagic stroke
• Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by arteries in the brain either leaking blood or bursting open. The leaked blood puts pressure on brain cells and damages them. It also reduces the blood supply reaching the brain tissue after the hemorrhage point. Blood vessels can burst and spill blood within the brain or near the surface of the brain, sending blood into the space between the brain and the skull.
• The ruptures can be caused by conditions such as hypertension, trauma, blood-thinning medications, and aneurysms (weaknesses in blood vessel walls).
• Intracerebral hemorrhage is the most common type of hemorrhagic stroke and occurs when brain tissue is flooded with blood after an artery in the brain bursts. Subarachnoid hemorrhage is the second type of hemorrhagic stroke and is less common. In this type of stroke, bleeding occurs in an artery in the subarachnoid space – the area between the brain and the thin tissues that cover it.
Causes of ischemic stroke
• Ischemic stroke is the most common form, accounting for around 85 percent of strokes. This type of stroke is caused by blockages or narrowing of the arteries that provide blood to the brain, resulting in ischemia – severely reduced blood flow that damages brain cells.
• These blockages are often caused by blood clots, which can form either in the arteries within the brain, or in other blood vessels in the body before being swept through the bloodstream and into narrower arteries within the brain. Fatty deposits within the arteries called plaque can cause clots that result in ischemia.
Causes of transient ischemic attack (TIA)
• TIAs are different from the kinds above because the flow of blood to the brain is only briefly interrupted. TIAs are similar to ischemic strokes in that they are often caused by blood clots or other clots.
• TIAs should be regarded as medical emergencies just like the other kinds of stroke, even if the blockage of the artery and symptoms are temporary. They serve as warning signs for future strokes and indicate that there is a partially blocked artery or clot source in the heart.
• According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over a third of people who experience a TIA go on to have a major stroke within a year if they have not received any treatment. Between 10-15 percent will have a major stroke within 3 months of a TIA.
Symptoms of Stroke
Acute change in level of consciousness or confusion
• Acute onset of weakness or paralysis of half or part of the body
• Numbness of one half or part of the body
• Partial vision loss
• Double vision
• Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
• Difficulty with balance and vertigo
Complications of Stroke
Behaviour changes: Having a stroke can contribute to depression or anxiety. You also may experience changes in your behaviour, such as being more impulsive or more withdrawn from socializing with others.
Speech difficulties: A stroke can impact areas of the brain having to do with speech and swallowing. As a result, you may have difficulty reading, writing, or understanding other people when they’re speaking.
Numbness or pain: A stroke can cause numbness and decreased sensation in parts of your body. This can be painful. Sometimes injury to the brain can also affect your ability to sense temperature. This condition is known as central stroke pain and can be difficult to treat.
Paralysis: Because of the way the brain works to direct movement, a stroke in the right side of your brain can affect movement on the left side of your body and vice-versa. Those who’ve had a stroke may not be able to use facial muscles or move an arm on one side.
You may be able to regain lost motor function, speech, or swallowing abilities after a stroke through rehabilitation. However, these can take time to regain.
Strokes are life-changing events that can affect a person both physically and emotionally, temporarily or permanently. After a stroke, successful recovery will often involve specific rehabilitative activities such as:
Speech therapy: To help with problems producing or understanding speech. Practice, relaxation, and changing communication style, using gestures or different tones for example, all help.
Physical therapy: To help a person relearn movement and co-ordination. It is important to get out and about, even if it is difficult at first.
Occupational therapy: To help a person to improve their ability to carry out routine daily activities, such as bathing, cooking, dressing, eating, reading, and writing.
Joining a support group: To 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: To provide practical support and comfort. Letting friends and family know what can be done to help is very important.
Rehabilitation is an important and long part of treatment. With the right help, rehabilitation to a normal quality of life is possible, depending on the severity of the stroke.
Prevention for stroke
This is best done by living healthfully, which means:
• Eating a healthy diet.
• Maintaining a healthy weight.
• Exercise regularly.
• Don’t smoke.
• Avoiding alcohol.
Eating a healthful diet means plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes; eating little or no red or processed meat; limiting intake of cholesterol and saturated fat (typically found in foods of animal origin); and minimizing salt intake so as to support healthy blood pressure.
• Keeping blood pressure under control.
• Treating diabetes.
• Treating obstructive sleep apnea (if present).
In Alternative Medicine, some natural medication and therapies have been confirmed effective for stroke: Hijaamah (blood letting), and other herbal medicines. On this, you may reach out to us via our contacts.