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A stroke is a medical emergency. Strokes happen when blood flow to your brain stops. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. There are two kinds of stroke. The more common kind, called ischemic stroke, is caused by a blood clot that blocks or plugs a blood vessel in the brain. The other kind, called hemorrhagic stroke, is caused by a blood vessel that breaks and bleeds into the brain. "Mini-strokes" or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), occur when the blood supply to the brain is briefly interrupted.

Symptoms of stroke are

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you have any of these symptoms, you must get to a hospital quickly to begin treatment. Acute stroke therapies try to stop a stroke while it is happening by quickly dissolving the blood clot or by stopping the bleeding. Post-stroke rehabilitation helps individuals overcome disabilities that result from stroke damage. Drug therapy with blood thinners is the most common treatment for stroke.

NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Symptoms of Stroke

The following features are indicative of Stroke:
  • trouble with speaking and understanding
  • paralysis
  • numbness
  • blurred or blackened vision
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • loss of balance
  • loss of coordination
  • problems swallowing
  • problems writing or reading
  • lack of control over the bladder or bowels
  • muscle weakness
  • emotional changes
  • sleepiness
  • unconsciousness
  • coma

Common Causes of Stroke

The following are the most common causes of Stroke:
  • interrupted or reduced blood supply to brain
  • brain cell death
  • blocked artery
  • leaking or bursting of a blood vessel

Risk Factors for Stroke

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Stroke:
  • being overweight
  • physical inactivity
  • heavy or binge drinking
  • use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines
  • hypertension
  • cigarette smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
  • high cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • obstructive sleep apnea
  • heart diseases
  • family history
  • age 55 or older
  • African-Americans
  • males

Prevention of Stroke

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Stroke. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • controlling high blood pressure
  • lowering the amount of cholesterol and saturated fat in diet
  • quitting tobacco use
  • controlling diabetes
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • exercising regularly
  • drinking alcohol in moderation
  • avoid cocaine and methamphetamines

Occurrence of Stroke

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Stroke cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Very common > 10 Million cases

Common Age Group

Stroke can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Stroke can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Stroke

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Stroke:
  • Physical examination: To evaluate symptoms of the condition
  • Blood tests: To evaluate how fast blood clots, whether blood sugar is abnormally high or low, whether critical blood chemicals are out of balance, or whether patient may have an infection
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan: To reveal hemorrhage, tumor, stroke and other conditions
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): To detect brain tissue damaged by an ischemic stroke and brain hemorrhages
  • Carotid ultrasound: To identify buildup of fatty deposits (plaques) and blood flow in carotid arteries
  • Cerebral angiogram: To obtain detailed view of arteries in brain and neck
  • Echocardiogram: To find a source of clots in heart that may have traveled from heart to brain and caused stroke

Doctor for Diagnosis of Stroke

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Stroke:
  • Neurologist

Complications of Stroke if untreated

Yes, Stroke causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Stroke is left untreated:
  • paralysis or loss of muscle movement
  • dysarthria
  • dysphagia
  • aphasia
  • memory loss or thinking difficulties
  • emotional problems
  • depression

Procedures for Treatment of Stroke

The following procedures are used to treat Stroke:
  • Mechanical clot removal: To physically break up or grab and remove the clot
  • Carotid endarterectomy: To remove plaques from arteries that run along each side of neck to brain
  • Angioplasty and stents: To expand the narrowed artery
  • Surgical clipping: To prevent re-bleeding of an aneurysm that has recently hemorrhaged
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery: To repair vascular malformations
  • Intracranial bypass: To treat poor blood flow to a region of the brain or complex vascular lesions, such as aneurysm repair

Medicines for Stroke

Below is the list of medicines used for Stroke:

Self-care for Stroke

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Stroke:
  • Control hypertension: Helps to reduce stroke risk
  • Lowering the amount of cholesterol and saturated fat in diet: Helps reducing the fatty deposits (plaques) in arteries
  • Quitting tobacco use: Helps reducing risk of stroke
  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Helps lowering blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels
  • Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables: Reduces risk of stroke
  • Exercise regularly: Helps to lower blood pressure, increase level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and improve the overall health of blood vessels and heart
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation: Helps managing stroke
  • Avoiding illicit drugs: To prevent the risk factors of stroke

Patient Support for Treatment of Stroke

The following actions may help Stroke patients:
  • Join a support group: Meeting with others who are coping with a stroke let's patient get out and share experiences, exchange information and forge new friendships
  • Friends and family support: Helps coping up with the situation

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Stroke.

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