What is a stroke?

When the normal blood flow to the brain is disrupted, one or multiple parts of the brain get damaged. This occurrence is called Brain Stroke.

Brain Attack or Brain Stroke can happen to anybody anytime. At the time of such an occurance, the blood flow to the brain is completely cut-off temporarily. Within a few minutes of complete disruption, the brain cells starts dying.

Overcoming a Brain Stroke largely depends on immediate medical attention. After the attack, every moment is important for the survival rate. 80% of the strokes can be prevented with immediate treatment.

Also, the repercussion of a stroke completely depends on the severity of the stroke and how much portion of the brain has been affected. Say, if only a few brain-cells are affected, the person may experience some temporary inability in moving in his or her limbs or speech problem.

Stroke symptoms

The symptoms of brain stroke largely depend on which part of the brain is affected by the stroke. Depending on the type of attack, the vital organs like the heart, liver or lung might lose their efficiency and indispensable body functions like breathing, blinking eye, swallowing and eye movements can be disrupted. Brain stroke could even create a problem with your speech and hearing ability as well.

Though the duration of the symptoms largely differs with the severity, here are few most obvious symptoms which ask for immediate medical attention:

The trouble with understanding and speech: The difficulty with understanding what the other person is saying, processing the logic and difficulty in understanding speech are the most common symptoms of brain stroke.

Trouble with walking: Unexplained dizziness while walking, stumbling upon trivial objects, loss of coordination and loss of balance are common signs of a stroke.

Paralysis in the arms, legs and face: Sudden paralysis in one side of the arms, legs and face is a clear sign of Brain Stroke paralysis. Ask the patient to raise his or her hands or both legs together and if one side feels numb; this is because of the nervous system that controls the action is damaged. The face paralysis is most vividly experienced while smiling.

Headache: A severe, unbearable headache accompanied by dizziness, vomiting and altered consciousness.

Blackened or blurred vision: Sudden blurred or double vision in one or both eyes may be a sign of Brain Stroke.

What causes a stroke

A Brain Stroke is caused by Ischemic Stroke or Hemorrhagic stroke where blood vessels get burst. If the disruption of blood flow is temporary, it is called Transient Ischemic Attack. This complication does not do any permanent damage.

There are mainly 2 types of Brain Stroke:

Ischemic stroke: Every 4 out of 5Brain Strokes are ischemic strokes. When the brain arteries are blocked or narrowed to a certain extent that the blood flow is almost impossible, the situation is called Ischemic Stroke.

Thrombotic stroke: When the blood supplying arteries have thrombus or blood clot, it’s called Thrombotic Stroke. The clot can be a result of fatty deposits in the arteries.

Embolic stroke: When a blood clot or other debris gets accumulated in blood vessels supplying brain, it is an Embolic Stroke. Embolic Stroke most commonly starts in the heart and blood clots move to the brain arteries.

Haemorrhagic stroke: When there is a leakage in the blood vessels of the patient’s brain due to multiple causes, the situation is called Haemorrhagic stroke. The conditions responsible for this complication are excessive hypertension, overtreatment with blood thinners and weak spots in the blood vessel walls.

Different types of Haemorrhagic strokes are:

Intracerebral Haemorrhage: This condition occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and overflows into adjacent Parenchyma. Due to this, all the other cells of that area are highly damaged. All the other brain cells beyond that part gradually die due to inadequate blood flow. Vascular malformations, high blood pressure, trauma and blood-thinning medications are primarily responsible for this condition.

Subarachnoid Haemorrhage: When an artery around the surface of the brain bursts and leaks to the skull and the surface of the brain, the condition is called subarachnoid haemorrhage. The most significant symptom of this condition is a sudden and severe headache.

Factors which increases the chances of Brain Stroke

There are 2 types of Brain Stroke risk factors:

Lifestyle risk factors

  • Extremely obese
  • Heavy drinking
  • Physical inactivity
  • Illicit drug consumption

Medical risk factors

  • Severe hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Cardiovascular abnormalities (heart defects, heart infection, heart failure, abnormal heart rhythm)
  • High Cholesterol level
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Family history

Brain Stroke complications

A brain stroke can leave behind multiple temporary or permanent complications:

  • Paralysis of limbs
  • Difficulty in thinking, talking and reasoning
  • Strange sensations and pain in multiple parts of the body
  • Difficulty in swallowing and talking
  • Difficulty in emotional connection
  • Decreased self-care ability
  • Changes in behaviour

Stroke Treatment and Prevention

The good news about strokes is that there is a lot of options now a days are available in form of Reperfusion therapies like I/V Thrombolysis –clot dissolving drug which can be successfully given within 4.5 hours of omit of stroke symptoms. Also, newer more effective stroke treatments are available in form of Mechanical Thrombectomy which can be opted with in 24 hrs of strokes onset.

Strokers are largely preventable with early recognition of signs and symptoms one may be able to avoid or decrease disability.

Consider taking steps such as:

  • Maintaining a healthy life style – Eating heart healthy foods and exercising regularly helps eliminate many of risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Quitting smoking and moderating alcohol consumption can also reduce stroke.
  • Controlling Medical illnesses. Those with high blood pressure or cholesterol can reduce their risk of stroke by seeking treatment from their care providers. For diabetics, it’s especially important to control to control blood sugar levels to avoid damaging blood vessels in the brain and other organs.
  • Learning the symptoms: “stroke is largely treatable but this matters”, the faster someone is treated, the more likely are to recover without permanent disability. Every second counts, so it’s important to quickly recognise signs/symptoms of stroke and should arrive at emergency room within 3 hours of their first symptoms to prevent disability or death.
Content Reviewed By: Dr. Kunal Bahrani