Stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention and proper care. It happens when blood supply to the brain is either reduced or stopped, or when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures due to which brain cells get deprived of oxygen and glucose required for their functioning. It can be fatal or can lead to permanent disability.
The most common risk factor for stroke is high BP. It increases person’s risk to stroke by four to six times. It is responsible for about 50 per cent of ischemic strokes and also increases the risk of haemorrhagic stroke markedly. High blood pressure is defined as a systolic blood pressure above 140 mmHg and/or a diastolic blood pressure above 90 mmHg. Systolic blood pressure is the maximum pressure in the arteries during contraction of heart. Diastolic blood pressure is the minimum pressure in the arteries between the heart’s contractions.
Symptoms associated with hypertension are tiredness, confusion, angina-like chest pain, blood in urine, nosebleed, irregular heartbeat, ear noise or buzzing, vision changes and heart failure as well. Hypertension doesn’t manifests it’s symptoms with its onset, it’s often diagnosed when significant damage has already occurred. Hypertension puts lot of strain on blood vessels that weakens them and make them prone to blockage and damage (at the end). Uncontrolled or untreated hypertension leads to atherosclerosis that is hardening and narrowing of blood vessels, which can further lead to blockage of blood vessels in brain result in stroke.
There are two types of stroke which are as follows:
- Ischemic stroke: It accounts for almost 80% of all strokes. It occurs when the artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood to brain is blocked. This stroke can be again of two types:
- Thrombotic stroke – happens because of clots in the blood stream. Clots can be formed either in the brain’s blood vessels or blood vessels that leads to brain, or blood vessels elsewhere in the body which then travel to the brain and block the blood supply to brain’s cells.
- Embolic stroke – is the second type of ischemic stroke that happens when a blood clot or plaque (fatty deposits and cholesterol) known as embolus travels through blood stream and blocks the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a part of brain.
- Haemorrhagic strokesoccur when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or leaks blood. This causes swelling of the brain and increased pressure in the skull that damages cells and tissues in the brain. Most obvious reason for this is high BP.
Signs of Stroke:
Immediate treatment of stroke can save life or increase the chances of full recovery. The signs are:
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body)
- Sudden blurred vision or decreased vision in one or both eyes
- Sudden inability to move a part of the body (paralysis)
- Sudden dizziness or headache with nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty in speaking or understanding words or simple sentences
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Dizziness, loss of balance, or poor coordination
- Brief loss of consciousness
- Sudden confusion
A transient ischemic attack (TIA), commonly known as a‘mini-stroke’can be a warning of an impending stroke. The signs and symptoms are same as of stroke but are temporary. It can occur from a few minutes to several months before stroke and happens when a particular part of brain is deprived of blood flow for 15 minutes or even less. Though TIA is a painless episode it should not be ignored and treated properly.
Treatment: Upto 80% of strokes are preventable by the control of risk factors. Some controllable risk factors include:
- High BP is the main risk factor. BP greater than 140/90(high BP) should be lowered down.it is the most effective way to prevent strokes .
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- High total cholesterol (greater than 200)
- Atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm)
- Existing carotid and/or coronary artery disease
- Sedentary Life
If it occurs even after prevention then tissue plasminogen activator, TPA (clot dissolving agents) are given via intravenous therapy within the first 3 to 4 1/2 hours of the onset of stroke symptoms to improve blood flow to brain. In cases where it can’t be managed by TPAs, carotid artery angioplasty can be done to open the blockage or widen the artery via surgical approach.
Hyperlink – http://www.frontendersfoundation.com/stroke-support-program/