Stroke Causes Symptoms Risk Factors Treatment

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Stroke Causes Symptoms Risk Factors Treatment

With little or no warning a stroke can cause sudden weakness, paralysis or even death. But however, fearsome this common affliction may be, rehabilitation can help survivors overcome any resulting disability. About a quarter of the people registered as physically handicapped in the United Kingdom have been disabled by strokes. Strokes often – though not exclusively – attack the elderly and are one of the most common causes of death in the Western World. Present advances in the medical research, however, particularly in connection with the role of high blood pressure, have helped our understanding of this illness. 

Many strokes are now preventable through early identification and treatment of those at risk. This article aims to provide comprehensive insights into stroke, including stroke causes symptoms risk factors treatment options. By understanding these aspects, you can take proactive steps to reduce your risk factors of stroke.


Stroke Causes Symptoms Risk Factors Treatment


What is Stroke?

Most people have some idea of what a stroke is, which is a testament to how often the disease occurs. The common factor in all strokes is that due to disease of blood vessel which supplies a particularly part of the brain, a section of the brain suddenly stops working. This means that the person involved often has little or no warning that something is wrong before he or she is struck down with weakness or paralysis down one side of the body. This may be accompanied by “aphasia” – loss of the power of speech – or other problems in higher brain functions. Some strokes can occur away from the parts of the brain that control movements so that this paralysis – also called “hemiplegia” – does not happen; but the first type of stroke is much more common.

What causes stroke?

Like the rest of the body, the brain must have a constant supply of blood reaching it through its arteries. If one of these arteries becomes blocked, the part of the brain that  it feeds will die because of the lack of oxygen and food which would normally be carries in the blood. Fortunately in the brain there are many cross-connections between neighboring blood vessels so that the area of damage is generally restricted. However, even that part of the brain which does not die may swell and damage the rest of the brain.

The other way in which strokes may be caused is when blood vessels in the brain burst. When this happens the blood rushes into the brain under pressure, severely damaging nerve fibers.

These two basic mechanisms, cerebral infarction (when the artery is blocked) and cerebral hemorrhage (when there is bleeding into the brain) can be brought about by a number of different disorders.

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Diseases which causes strokes?

Obstruction of an artery in the brain can result from a disease which produces a blockage in the artery itself – a cerebral thrombosis – or when a blood clot passes up the blood supply to the brain artery and gets stuck there. This is called a cerebral embolism.

Thrombosis: 

Thrombosis – or blood-clotting – most usually occurs when an artery of the brain becomes furred-up: fatty material accumulates in the walls of the artery. This is typical of a disease called atherosclerosis, which also causes the heart’s blood vessels to clot, resulting in heart attacks. Occasionally other problems in the arteries can cause thrombosis. These include inflammation of the artery, which can occur on its own or as a result of some serious infections.

Embolisms: 

Embolisms can be caused by heart diseases or by disorders in the main arteries in the neck from which the blood enters the brain. Thus heart disease and strokes are linked, not only because the same disease of the arteries can cause trouble in both the heart and the brain, but also because in many diseases of the heart, blood clots form on the valves or on the damaged inside walls of the heart and these then fly off as emboli to cause strokes.

Cerebral hemorrhages: 

Cerebral hemorrhages – when the blood vessels in the brain burst – also have a number of causes. The most common is when there are weak places – called aneurysms – in the walls of the brain’s arteries which then burst, often under the influence of a higher than normal blood pressure. In the larger brain arteries at the base of the skull, these aneurysms may be congenital (the patient is born with them), although they may not rupture until late in life at all.

High Blood Pressure: 

High blood pressure also has a tendency to produce weak places in the smaller arteries within the substance of the brain from which brain hemorrhage then occurs. Less common causes of cerebral hemorrhage can occur as a result of the presence of small, abnormally formed blood vessels in the brain, rather like the strawberry marks that are a similar abnormality of the blood vessels in the skin. This is called arterio-venous anomaly and is again congenital.

What are risk factors for stroke?

  • Certain people have a higher risk of having strokes than others. The main conditions which predispose to stroke are diabetes, high blood pressure, having a high serum cholesterol and smoking cigarettes.
  • In addition, stroke seems to run in some families, though because it is such a common condition this is difficult to prove.
  • Finally there are people with heart diseases tat can cause stroke by embolism. Thus people with a high risk can often be identified and preventive measures taken to reduce the chances of a stroke occurring.

What are the symptoms of strokes?

Some stroke patients have a warning attack in the weeks or months before a major stroke. These warning attacks can take the form of short-lived episodes of weakness down one side or transient blacking out of vision in one eye – a sign of blockage in one of the blood vessels to the retina. Most stroke patients, however, do not get any warning: what really typifies a stroke is the suddenness with which it happens. 

In the most cases, disabilities such as loss of function of one side of the body or loss of speech reaches its maximum within minutes, though occasionally it may take hours. In the following days and weeks, there will be an improvement as some of the brain cells recover, and after six months the disabilities will be considerably less than at the onset of the stroke.

Other symptoms may include loss of vision in the right or left hand half of each eye (visual field defect), difficulty in dressing or finding the way around familiar surroundings and a host of other subtle difficulties in brain function. If a large area of the brain was damaged at the start of the stroke, the patient may not have a clear awareness of what has happened, or may ignore everything that happens on one side of his body. As the damaged brain swells, he may become drowsy or lose consciousness. This may happen much more quickly in brain hemorrhages, since the surge of blood into the rain causes much early damage to the mechanisms that maintain alertness.

The Body parts damaged by stroke:


Stroke Causes Symptoms Risk Factors Treatment


Strategies for preventing strokes:

Analyzing the risk factors associated with strokes, you must establish a healthy life style with the following steps as a preventative measures of strokes:

1. Control Blood Pressure:

The primary cause of stroke is assumed the high blood pressure. The people with hypertension must go with routine testing, medication if prescribed by doctor. The people with hypertension also go with healthy diet plan avoiding high protein and salt restriction.

2. Healthy Diet:

A healthy weight can be maintained and the risk of stroke can be decreased with a healthy eating habit rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low in saturated fats.

3. Regular Exercise:

Exercise can help you to maintain a healthy body weight and improve the blood circulation both in brain and body. A moderate exercise for 150 minutes per week or active life style can help to reduce the risk factors of stroke.

4. Give up Smoking and Alcohol:

Studies have shown that smoking affects blood arteries badly and raises the the risk of stroke. It is highly recommended to quit smoking for long-term and short-term advantages. To lower the risk of stroke, moderation is required in alcohol taking.

5 Manage Diabetes:

Diabetes that is not under control might harm blood vessels. It is crucial to keep the diabetic level under control through proper medication, nutrition and exercise.

Treatment of strokes:

Initial treatment consists of limiting the amount of damage that may be caused by swelling spreading to the unaffected parts of the brain. This is done by paying close attention to the blood pressure and administering certain drugs, particularly steroids. Very seldom can surgeons remove blood clots which are causing pressure as they are often situated in inaccessible parts of the brain.

However, the main care of patient who have had strokes lies in the hands of nursing staff, physiotherapists, speech therapists and occupational therapists. Careful nursing is very important to prevent the emergence of bedsores and chest troubles which can seriously impair the flow of blood to the damaged areas in the brain.

Many stroke patients recover sufficiently to be able to drive a car. However, before they actually do so, they must take special examinations to test their reflexes.

Frequently Asked Questions on strokes:

Q. Does taking the contraceptive pill increase the risk of having a stroke?

Ans: In a tiny number of women, strokes have occurred while they were on the pill. For this reason doctors try to discourage women who are over 40 from taking the pill. There is far less risk in women who are under 40, although doctors will dissuade women from continuing with pill if they have a history of migraine, as in this instance the pill does increase slightly the chances of having a stroke at a younger age.

Q. Are there any operations available to treat people who have  had a stroke, and how successful are they?

Ans: In the past, operations have been tried to unblock the artery whose obstruction has caused a stroke. These were not very successful, and often they made the situation worse. Occasionally one of the larger arteries in the neck may be narrowed or roughened inside and an operation on this may prevent further damaging strokes. In most people who have had a stroke, however, surgery has little to offer.

Q. My father recently had a stroke and he seems to have lost his ability to speak. will it return?

Ans: To some extent it is very likely to come back. Sometimes people may not be able to speak at all in the first few days after a stroke and then recover nearly completely.

Q. Does everyone who has had a stroke have to be admitted to hospital?

Ans: This would depend upon the severity of the stroke, and the facilities available in the stroke patient’s home which would enable him to be properly looked after. In some areas, special teams of physiotherapists are available to treat people in their own home. However, often people with strokes do need to come into hospital while they are very disabled so that their stroke can be properly assessed both in terms of treatment and of prevention of further strokes, if possible.

Q. Is it possible to prevent people having strokes?

Ans: Yes, if patients with high blood pressure are identified and treated early, this can greatly reduce the risk of a stroke.

Q. Is there any point in having someone’s blood pressure treated after they have had a stroke?

Ans: Immediately after a stroke, the blood pressure is usually left alone for a few days, since a sudden drop may impair the flow of blood to the damaged areas in the brain. However, careful studies have shown that later on it is important to treat the blood pressure vigorously to prevent further strokes, which might cause further disability.

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