Stroke: Definition, Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

This serious neurovascular problem can have different causes and warning symptoms.

Stroke is known by many other names: stroke, stroke, stroke, or stroke ; and it is feared by anyone, regardless of how it is labeled.

The cause of this fear is that the effects of a stroke can be fatal for the person, ranging from the onset of any type of disability to death. To get an idea, strokes are the third leading cause of death in the western part of the world.

That is why it is so extremely important to know what they consist of and what their first symptoms are, in order to avoid any greater evil in the person.

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what is a stroke? Definition 

A stroke is an interruption of blood flow to the brain due to a blocked or ruptured blood vessel. This suspension of blood supply to the brain causes neurons to not receive enough oxygen and begin to die.

If we take into account that the  brain is responsible for the functioning of everything that the person does: walking, thinking, speaking, moving, and even breathing, this can end with some type of disability; leading to permanent damage to the brain or even death if said stroke is not detected in time.

Two types of stroke can be differentiated:

1. Ischemic stroke

Due to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques that in the arterial vessels that inject blood into the brain, preventing its passage. Other times, this pause in blood flow is caused by a blood clot that is larger than usual.

2. Hemorrhagic effusion

In this type of stroke, the rupture of a blood vessel in the brain, and the consequent spillage of blood through it, causes intracranial hemorrhage that can also affect the membranes that surround the brain and the meninges.

Causes and risk factors

There are three main reasons that cause a stroke:

1. Blockage of the arteries by a clot or by hardening : prone in people with arteriosclerosis, diabetes, high cholesterol levels or hypertension.

2. Obstruction due to a cerebral embolism: in this type of accident, a blood clot, belonging to any area of ​​the body, travels through it until it meets a narrow artery where it becomes stranded.

3. Intracranial hemorrhage caused by rupture, hardening or congestion of the blood vessels, also called aneurysm, or by hypertension.

Although many of these causes are associated with various diseases with risk of stroke, there are risk factors, some of them avoidable, so that an apparently healthy person can suffer any of the types of stroke.

Unalterable risk factors

These risk factors are impossible for the person to control or modify. These are:

  • Genetics : If there is a family history of stroke, this person may be more likely to have one.
  • Age : Older people are more likely to have a stroke.
  • Sex : Men are generally more likely than women to have one of these strokes.
  • Being born with a more fragile heart than usual or having an altered heart rate.
  • First months after pregnancy : Women who have just given birth may be more likely to have a stroke after the first few months.

Controllable risk factors

However, there are other elements that also influence when suffering a cardiovascular incident but that can be modified or mastered:

  • Physical inactivity: exercising physically on a regular basis reduces the likelihood of stroke
  • High cholesterol levels: the possibility of having a stroke increases when blood cholesterol levels exceed 240 mg / dL
  • Obesity
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Tobacco

Symptoms

The bad reputation and fear of strokes comes, in addition to the consequences that it can have, because in many cases the symptoms appear suddenly, the person not perceiving any of them and therefore not giving realize you are having a stroke.

Symptoms that usually warn of a stroke are:

  • Severe headache with no apparent cause
  • Confusion and difficulties in speech
  • Loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arms and legs (especially on one side of the body)
  • Vertigo, dizziness, and loss of balance or coordination

FAST stroke test

However, there is a protocol for the rapid detection of a stroke. This protocol called FAST (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) is vital in the face of the possibility of detecting a spill and saving life, with only the appearance of one of them being a cause for alarm.

The test consists of observing a series of milestones:

1. Face : if the person can only move one side of the face, it is a sign of effusion. To do this, the person is asked to smile and it is observed if both sides are equal or not.

2. Arms : The person is asked to raise their arms, in the case of only being able to lift one, or feel difficulties in the other, it is another sign.

3. Speak : Asking the person to say their name and surname, their address or simply to repeat a phrase, if they do not coordinate the words or do it very slowly is considered an indication of a spill.

4. Time : Whether you meet all three signs or if you only meet one, it is vitally important to contact the emergency services to intervene as soon as possible, since after the first hour from the onset of symptoms the damage may be irreversible .

Diagnosis

For a correct diagnosis of stroke it is necessary both to identify what type of stroke it is, how to determine the location and the cause.

As a first step in identifying the type of effusion, clinicians may use a head computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Below are different tests and techniques to get the rest of the information about the spill. For example:

  • Blood test
  • Electrocardiograms (ECG)
  • Cerebral angiography
  • Carotid ultrasound or Doppler ultrasound.

Treatment

As mentioned above, a stroke requires emergency treatment, which can reduce the probability of disability and even save the patient’s life.

The choice of treatment will depend on the type of stroke, but in either case the priority is to restore blood flow when it is an ischemic stroke, and reduce brain pressure in the event of a hemorrhagic stroke.

In the event that the cause of the effusion is a blood clot, and this is detected during the first hours after the onset of the effusion, the patient is administered a clot-reducing drug, which will dilute the clot and boost the flow of blood. blood in the injured area.

In addition to this emergency treatment, there are two more types of treatment to contain the effects of strokes :

1. Intracranial vascular systems

Endovascular interventions are used to increase blood flow in the veins and arteries of the brain. This treatment consists of the introduction of a catheter along the blood vessels until it reaches the brain. Once there, the catheter can leave different elements:

  • Drugs to dissolve the blood mass
  • Mechanized suction systems or removers
  • Balloons and stents, used to keep vessels open
  • Aneurysm repair metal coils

2. Surgery

Through the use of surgery the medical professional can stir the blood spilled around the brain, as well as mend those broken blood vessels.

After a stroke, most people need to go to rehab to regain the functions that may have been affected by the stroke. As well as the reeducation of the patient to eliminate those risk factors that could facilitate the appearance of a second stroke. 

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