A stroke is a medical condition that affects the brain. It occurs when there is a short supply or total cut of blood to the brain. The blood carries oxygen to the brain. When there is a shortage of blood in the brain which also means a shortage of oxygen, the blood cells begin to die within minutes. The shortage of or no supply of blood to the brain is a result of blockage of the blood vessels or when the blood vessels bursts.
Stroke is a medical emergency that requires prompt treatment. The effects can cause lifelong brain damage, long-term disability, or death.
There are 2 ways a stroke can occur. It is either the blood flow is blocked or there is internal bleeding in the brain.
Ischemic stroke: This is the most common type of stroke. Approximately 85% of strokes are ischemic. This type of stroke occurs when the blood vessels in the brain become blocked or narrowed, causing a reduced flow of blood to the head. Fatty deposits in the arteries traveling to the brain can block the vessel, or poor blood flow from an irregular heartbeat forms a blood clot in the brain’s blood vessels.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): This is the temporary blockage of the blood vessel in the brain. It is sometimes referred to as a warning stroke. It might not cause lasting brain damage, but it raises the risk of getting a stroke.
Hemorrhagic stroke: Approximately 15% of strokes are hemorrhagic strokes. The effects are far more dangerous than ischemic stroke. This occurs when a blood vessel in the brain swells up and burst open, or when blood begins to leak out from a weakened vessel. Hemorrhagic stroke is of 2 types: Intracranial hemorrhage; bleeding that occurs inside the brain, Subarachnoid hemorrhage; bleeding occurs between the brain and the membranes that cover it.
· Hypertension (Major cause of stroke)
· Heart diseases (Irregular heartbeats, atrial fibrillation, etc.)
· Clogged arteries
· Age (The older you get, the more likely you are to get it)
· Gender (It affects men more, but women are less likely to recover)
· Race (It affects Africans more)
· High cholesterol
Symptoms of stroke include:
· Numbness of the face, arm, or leg (paralysis in one part of the body)
· Difficulties speaking
· Loss of coordination in movement
· Blurry vision in one or both eyes
· Difficulty in bladder or bowel control
See any doctor immediately if you have any of the symptoms listed above. Even if it is not so glaring or the symptoms come and go, seek medical attention.
Several diagnoses are done to determine the causing factor and the type of stroke. These include:
Physical examination: The doctor will check for muscle strength, reflexes, vision, and coordination. The doctor will first discuss your medical history before running the physical examination.
Blood test: Certain blood tests can be used to determine the causes of the stroke. The tests do not detect a stroke. Blood tests such as fasting blood sugar, lipid profile, full blood count, etc. The blood test will also detect clotting factors.
CT scan: The radio diagnosis is done to show strokes, tumors, and other conditions affecting the brain. CT scan can detect strokes definitively.
MRI scan: Used to detect damaged brain tissues.
Carotid ultrasound: The scan is done to analyze blood flow in the carotid arteries.
Echocardiogram: Clots that arise as a result of irregular heartbeat travel from the heart to the blood vessels in the brain will be detected with the imagery from the echocardiogram.
· Regulating blood pressure to avoid hypertension
· Reducing the amount of cholesterol and saturated fat
· Proper dieting to avoid excess blood sugar level
· Keeping a healthy weight and form
· Exercising regularly
· Avoiding the intake of alcohol
· Avoiding illegal drugs
The goal of the treatment is to prevent life-threatening complications, prevent stroke in the future, and assist the patient get back to his or her natural and normal functioning. Treatment can range from medications to stop or reduce swelling, reduce swelling and create more comfort. Surgery and interventional radiology are also done.