Home Diseases & Conditions Stroke: Types, Symptoms & Treatment

Stroke: Types, Symptoms & Treatment

Stroke is a neurological condition caused by a shortage of blood, and therefore of oxygen to the brain cells resulting in focal neurological deficits. The focal neurological deficits (FNDs) often manifest as loss of function of the body parts controlled by the affected brain section.

Stroke

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

The most common signs and symptoms are seen in patients include;

  • Paralysis commonly involves one-half of the body.
  • Numbness and weakness usually affect one-half of the body.
  • Trouble speaking or understanding speech.
  • Confusion.
  • Blackened, double, or blurred vision in one or both eyes.
  • Loss of balance and coordination.
  • Difficulty walking.
  • Dizziness.
  • Severe and sudden headache of unknown cause.

TYPES OF STROKE

Types of stroke

Three main types exist namely:

  1. Hemorrhagic stroke
  2. Ischaemic stroke, and
  3. Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)

The specific experienced by a patient affects his/her treatment and recovery timeline.

Hemorrhagic stroke.

This occurs when a blood vessel, usually an artery in the brain breaks open and/or leaks blood. The blood leaked by such an artery raises the intracranial pressure, causes the brain to swell, and in effect damages the brain cells and tissues. Two major subtypes exist namely intra-cerebral (meaning within the brain substance) and sub-arachnoid( meaning underneath the arachnoid layer; one of the three layers of the brain that separates the brain substance from the cranial bones).

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), 13% of Hemorrhagic strokes are intra-cerebral.

Ischaemic Stroke

This is usually caused by narrowing or blockages of the arteries supplying blood to the brain. This blockage could be caused by blood clots traveling from a distant source in the body (called the embolic subtype) or blood clots created ab initio in the affected blood vessel ( called the thrombotic subtype). The narrowing of arteries could be caused by atherosclerotic plaques deposited in the inner layer of such arteries, effectively reducing their diameter over time.

Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)

A transient ischaemic attack also called a mini-stroke, occurs when blood flow to the brain is momentarily blocked. Symptoms are similar to those of Hemorrhagic or Ischaemic types, however, these symptoms go away after a brief period, hence the name “transient”.

TIAs are usually caused by blood clots. It usually predicts the possibility of a full stroke occurring in the future, so DO NOT IGNORE A TIA!. Do not hesitate to dial 911 if you or anyone around you experiences the symptoms of stroke, even if the symptoms are TRANSIENT.

RISK FACTORS

Although the risk factors of stroke vary according to the types aforementioned, the following are common to most stroke victims.

  • Smoking.
  • Diet high in salt, trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
  • Inactivity/ sedentary lifestyle.
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Tobacco use,
  • Certain medical conditions such as; Diabetes Mellitus, High blood pressure, High blood cholesterol, Coronary artery disease, Enlarged heart chambers, and Sickle Cell Disease.

DIAGNOSIS

Stroke is a medical condition requiring a medical specialist’s attention, so do not try any home remedies and visit the hospital as soon as possible.

At the hospital, your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and how they started. He/she will also take your past medical history in order to find out your risk factors. He/she will also

  • ask about the medication you have taken
  • take your blood pressure, and
  • Listen to your heartbeat.

Your doctor will also perform a physical examination on you in order to evaluate you for;

  • Coordination
  • Balance
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Confusion, and
  • Visual problems.

He/she might carry out a blood test and ask you to go for a CT/MRI scan, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, ultrasound, or angiogram just to help determine the cause of the stroke.

TREATMENT

Treatment depends on the specific stroke type, however, the medications usually prescribed by doctors to such patients include and are not limited to;

1. Tissue plasminogen activator.

This will help break up the blood clot causing the stroke. It is usually used in an emergency situation.

2. Anticoagulants.

These drugs reduce the blood’s ability to form clots. The most used anticoagulant is warfarin. They are used in prevention as well as treatment modalities.

3. Antiplatelet drugs.

These drugs also reduce the blood’s ability to form clots, however, they do so by making it difficult for the blood’s platelets to stick together. The most used anti-platelet drugs are aspirin and clopidogrel. They are useful for preventive measures.

4. Statins

Statins help lower blood cholesterol levels. Common Statins include rosuvastatin, simvastatin, and atorvastatin.

5. Antihypertensive drugs.

These groups of drugs lower blood pressure which would prevent dislodgement of blood clots from a thrombus, forming an embolus which could cause a stroke if it lodges in the cerebral arteries.

Surgical and physiotherapeutic measures are also included in management to enhance recovery and promote a better life.

CONCLUSION

If you ever experience/suspect symptoms of stroke, do not hesitate to dial the emergency number, 911, and /or present at the nearest medical facility. Timing is essential!.

Prevention is possible and measures to prevent stroke include, quitting smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, regular exercising, and medical checkups, and keeping weight down. Doing the aforementioned will put you in a better shape to prevent stroke.

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