Also known as cerebrovascular accident, a stroke is brain damage that occurswhen the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted or gravely reduced.This means that the brain cells are getting no oxygen and food, and they beginto die out within minutes. A stroke is classified as medical emergency as itcan cause permanent neurological damage, severe complications, and even death.
There are two types of strokes:ischemic stroke (the more common kind, caused by a blood clot that blocks or plugs a bloodvessel in the brain) and hemorrhagic stroke (caused by a blood vessel thatbreaks for some reason and bleeds into the brain). There are also “mini-strokes”, or transient ischemic attacks, that happen whenthe blood supply to the brain is momentarily interrupted.
There are certain risk factors that might considerably increase one’s chancesof having a stroke. These are: genetics (if someone from a person’s family hashad a stroke or a heart attack, they also might have a stroke), a sedentarylifestyle, high cholesterol (which blocks the arteries), high blood pressure,excessive drinking, smoking (and even being regularly exposed to second-handsmoke), cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, drug abuse, being overweight orobese, etc.
The only way a person might prevent a stroke is by leading a healthy life-style.This is achieved by eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, avoiding drinkingand smoking, exercising regularly, not using drugs, and maintaining a healthyweight, etc.
Also, people with high cholesterol, diabetes and high blood pressure shouldconsult the doctor on how to control their condition in the best way.
The most common symptoms of a stroke are: trouble with walking, speaking andunderstanding, trouble with seeing, sudden shooting headaches, paralysis ornumbness on one side of the body or face.
It is vital that, should one feel thesesymptoms or see anyone experience these symptoms, someone call an emergencynumber. Every minute counts, and there should be no delay in calling theparamedics.
The initial treatment ofthe stroke depends on whether a person is experiencing an ischemic or hemorrhagicstroke. In case of the ischemic stroke, the doctors will try to restore theblood flow to the brain. Also, measures will be taken to stabilize aperson’s vital signs, including giving them medicines (such as Aspirin, ortissue plasminogen activator, etc.).
In the case of the hemorrhagic stroke, the doctors will try to control and stopthe bleeding, and reduce the pressure in the brain. Once the bleeding stops,the treatment usually involves bed rest and supportive medicalcare while the body absorbs the blood. Medicinesmay be given to control blood pressure, brain swelling and seizures. Also, surgical measures may need to betaken to repair the blood vessel that was bleeding and relieve the pressure.
After the patient’s state has stabilized, rehabilitation might beneeded. Early aggressive rehabilitation allows a person to regain somenormal functioning. The rehabilitation will be based on the physical abilitiesthat were lost, the general health of the person before the stroke, and one’sability to participate.