All you need to know about stroke.
Stroke is a brain attack, which occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is reduced or interrupted. When this happens, the brain cells are deprived oxygen and they begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.
Notes about Stroke
- Stroke is a medical emergency and needs to be treated immediately.
- Treatment depends on the type of stroke.
- During stroke, the brain does not get oxygen and this damages the brain.
Types Of Stroke
There are types of stroke that occurs and this depends on which part of the body it affects.
- Ischemic stroke – This occurs if an artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the brain becomes blocked. Blood clots often cause the blockages that lead to ischemic strokes.
Treatment of Ischemic Stroke
Treatment starts with drugs that break down clots and prevent others from forming. Aspirin can be given, as can an injection of tissue plasminogen activator (TPA). TPA is very effective at dissolving clots but needs to be injected within 4.5 hours of stroke symptoms starting.
There are other procedures that can be carried out to decrease the risk of strokes or TIAs. A carotid endarterectomy involves a surgeon opening the carotid artery and removing any plaque that might be blocking it.
Alternatively, an angioplasty involves a surgeon inflating a small balloon in a narrowed artery via catheter and then inserting a mesh tube called a stent into the opening. This prevents the artery from narrowing again.
- Hemorrhagic stroke –
Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in your brain leaks or ruptures. Brain hemorrhages can result from many conditions that affect your blood vessels. These include:
Uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension)
Over treatment with anticoagulants (blood thinners)
Weak spots in your blood vessel walls (aneurysms)
Treatment can begin with drugs given to reduce the pressure in the brain, control overall blood pressure, prevent seizures and prevent sudden constrictions of blood vessels.
If an individual is taking blood-thinning anticoagulants or an antiplatelet medication like warfarin or clopidogrel, they can be given drugs to counter the effects of the medication or blood transfusions to make up for blood loss.
Surgery can be used to repair any problems with blood vessels that have led or could lead to hemorrhagic strokes. Surgeons can place small clamps at the base of aneurysms or fill them with detachable coils to stop blood flow and prevent rupture.
If the hemorrhage is caused by arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), surgery can also be used to remove them if they are not too big and not too deep in the brain. AVMs are tangled connections between arteries and veins that are weaker and burst more easily than other normal blood vessels.
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
When blood flow to part of the brain stops for a short period of time, also called transient ischemic attack (TIA), it can mimic stroke-like symptoms. These appear and last less than 24 hours before disappearing. Learn more about the signs, your risk, and TIA management.
Seek emergency care even if your symptoms seem to clear up. Having a TIA puts you at greater risk of having a full-blown stroke, causing permanent damage later. If you’ve had a TIA, it means there’s likely a partially blocked or narrowed artery leading to your brain or a clot source in the heart.