What is Stroke?
Stroke is better explained as the sudden death of brain cells due to lack of oxygen, which is usually caused by blockage of blood flow or burst of an artery to the brain. This causes the part of the body that the injured brain controls to stop working.
Our brain cells need constant supply of oxygen from the blood, and this is why the brain suffers when the blood supply is cut off. Remember that every activity is monitored and controlled by the brain so if a part of the brain fails to work, some other part/s of our body will be affected.
Stroke can also be referred to as “cerebrovascular accident (CVA) or brain attack. Strokes are deadly and can result in death. They need to be properly managed when they occur. In fact it is advisable to rush a victim to the hospital straight away so the victim can be stabilized. You should also know that not all hospitals are well equipped to deal with stroke patients, so you should locate the nearest one as soon as possible for adequate care.
The fatality rate and level of disability caused by stroke can be significantly reduced by immediate and appropriate medical care.
It is a fact that stroke has permanently maimed many hundreds of thousands over the years. You should also know the fatality rate has not significantly reduced even with the campaign because there are still a lot of people who don’t know how to get help.
Some people erroneously believe that only those 50 years and above are susceptible to stroke. This has been proven to be false. Stroke can happen to anyone, regardless of the age, sex, race or belief.
This purpose of this article is to bring to light how deadly stroke is, the symptoms and causes, the necessary preventive measures and how it can be treated.
Facts about Stroke
According to research;
About 800,000 people in the United States suffer from stroke every year, with about three in four being first-time strokes.
It will surprise you to know that stroke is the No. 5 cause of death in the United States. It kills about 130,000 people a year. This proves that one in every 20 death in the USA is a result of stroke.
Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. It may seem hard to believe but it’s the truth
Every four minutes, someone dies of stroke. This is pathetic but it’s another hard fact we cannot ignore.
Stroke is a leading cause of permanent disability and the leading avoidable cause of disability. It’s a pity it can be avoided or prevented but sometimes we choose to ignore all the signs and campaigns.
More women than men have strokes each year, in part because women live longer.
Estimates of the overall annual incidence of stroke in US children are 6.4 per 100,000 children (0 to 15 years), with approximately half being hemorrhagic strokes.
87% of strokes are classified as ischemic. An ischemic stroke occurs when a clot or a mass blocks a blood vessel, cutting off blood flow to a part of the brain.
African-Americans are more impacted by stroke than any other racial group within the American population.
You can save lives by sharing this article and a lot more others on stroke. We can win this battle against stroke.
Types and causes of Strokes
There are two major types of strokes. They are;
- Ischemic stroke (part of the brain loses blood flow)
- Hemorrhagic stroke (bleeding occurs within the brain)
Ischemic means when blood and oxygen supply to a part of the body is reduced. It is usually caused by blood clot in an artery, which blocks the flow of blood. This is the most common type of stroke. It occurs in about 7 in 10 cases.
Usually the blood clot forms within the artery itself. This occurs over a patch of fatty materials called atheroma. Atheroma is commonly referred to as furring or hardening of the arteries. There are small patches of atheroma formed on the inside of arteries in most older people and if these patches become thick, they can trigger the blood to clot.
In rare cases, the blood may form in other part of the body and then transferred to an artery in the brain via the bloodstream. This is called embolus.
When a blood vessel bursts inside the brain, we can say an “intracerebral hemorrhage” has occurred. This causes the blood to spill into the nearby brain tissue. The affected brain cells lose oxygen, and become damaged or die. This happens in about 1 in 10 strokes.
Blood vessel can also burst in the subarachnoid space of the brain. The subarachnoid hemorrhage is the narrow space between the brain and the skull. This space is normally filled with a fluid called the cerebrospinal fluid. It has been proven that about 1 stroke in 20 is due to a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
Symptoms of Stroke
It is impossible for one to suffer stroke suddenly without noticing the signs. Before the very visible collapse, there must be some signs of the imminent stroke. It is possible most people ignore those signs till it is too late.
Some associate these signs with tiredness, old age, hunger, stress, just name it. Over 80% of stroke patients didn’t see it coming because they were too busy to pay attention to the changes in their body.
Signs that you may be having a stroke include:
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech.
- Sudden weakness or numbness of the arm, leg or face, especially on one side of the body.
- Sudden experience of partial or total blindness.
- Sudden experience of trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Once you notice any of these signs in your body or someone close to you, do not waste any time to dial 911. Stroke does not manifest only when you experience all the signs. It could happen after just one of the signs. Do not hesitate to seek for help.
You should know delay is dangerous.
Treatment of Stroke
Just as the two main types of strokes are caused by different factors, also there are different ways to treat stroke.
- Ischemic stroke is caused by blockage of the arteries or when they are narrowed and so treatment focuses on restoring adequate flow of blood to the brain.
Drugs that can break down clots and prevent further ones from forming will be very useful here.
Some of these medications need to be taken immediately and only for a short time, while others may only be started once the stroke has been treated and may need to be taken long term.
Drugs that can be effective against ischemic strokes include
- Alteplase. Very effective if started as soon as possible after the stroke occurs. It isn’t generally recommended if more than 4.5 hours have passed. It is important a brain scan is carried out to confirm a diagnosis of an ischemic stroke before using alteplase. This is because this medication can make the bleeding that occurs in hemorrhagic strokes worse.
- Antiplatelets such as aspirin, clopidogrel and dipyrdamole.
- Anticoagulants such as warfarin, apixaban, dabigatran, edoxaban and rivaroxaban. Anticoagulants prevents blood clots by changing the chemical composition of the blood in a way that prevents clots from occurring.
- Antihypertensives such as thiazide diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers and alpha-blockers. These are drugs used for patients that have high blood pressure.
- This is for patients that also have high level of cholesterol in the blood.
- Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by bursts of blood vessel in the brain. Surgery is recommended for hemorrhagic stroke patients. Occasionally, emergency surgery may be required to remove any blood from the brain and repair any burst blood vessels.
How Can I Prevent Stroke?
You can prevent stroke by observing the following;
- Maintain a healthy diet. A low-fat, high-fibre diet is usually recommended, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Avoid foods high in salt and processed foods.
- Regular exercise. This can help lower your cholesterol and keep your blood pressure healthy. 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week is recommended. Regular exercise may not be possible in the first weeks or months after stroke, but you should be able to begin exercising once your rehabilitation has progressed.
- Avoid smoking completely. Smoking significantly increases your risk of having a stroke. This is because it narrows your arteries and makes blood more likely to clot.
- Reduce your alcohol intake or avoid alcohol completely. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to high blood pressure and trigger an irregular heartbeat, both of which can increase your risk of having a stroke.
Please note that this report does not in any way serve as a substitute or replacement for your doctor’s report. This is just to guide you.
If you feel this article has been helpful, kindly drop a comment to share your experience or thoughts.