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Strokes: types, diagnosis, complications, and treatment

Strokes: types, diagnosis, complications, and treatment

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Strokes threaten our lives, particularly when not treated early. Sadly, it may occur to your father, mother, brother or even to you. So, you need to be aware of their symptoms and the way to deal with each to save yourself and others around you.

Types of strokes

There are 2 major forms of stroke:

1- ischemic stroke. It represents about 87 % of strokes.

An ischemic stroke happens when a blood clot prevents blood flow from reaching the brain. If the clot stays in situ, pressure continues to rise, which can eventually cause a hemorrhagic stroke.

The blood clot is usually due to atherosclerosis, that is a drop of fatty deposits on the lumen of the blood vessels.
Some of those fatty deposits can break off and block blood flow to your brain. The concept of the ischemic stroke is similar to that of a heart attack, as a blood clot blocks blood flow to specific parts of your heart.

The ischemic stroke is subdivided into 3 types:

The most important difference of those 3 varieties is the site at which the stoke stops and blocks blood flow.

– Embolic

In this type, the blood clot travels from another part of the body to the brain. An estimated 15 % of embolic strokes are owing to a condition known as atrial fibrillation, where your heart beats irregularly. The blood clot lodges in a little blood vessel, causing a blockage.

– A thrombotic stroke

Is an ischemic stroke caused by a clot forming in a blood vessel in your brain? Thrombotic stroke is caused when one or additional of the arteries of the brain are blocked by a thrombus (blood clot in an artery).

– Transient ischemic attack (TIA)

Doctors also call a transient ischemic attack (TIA) a warning or mini-stroke. A clot that temporarily blocks blood flow to your brain causes an ischemia. The blood clot and TIA symptoms last for a short period of time.

Also, there are diseases of the vessels that may produce a stroke. These are large Vessel thrombosis and small Vessel disease (also known as Lacunar Infarction).

Large vessel thrombosis is caused by atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) followed by a fast blood clot formation. This causes an interruption in blood flow to the large vessels.
Small vessel disease (or Lacunar Infarction) commonly occurs when the blood flow is blocked by a very small arterial vessel.

This is very closely linked to hypertension|cardiovascular disease} (high blood pressure).
One different stroke worth mentioning is that the TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack). This is usually known as a “mini-stroke”. This is often caused by a temporary clot that quickly disrupts (interrupts) blood flow to the brain. Though this kind carries similar symptoms, they’re usually temporary (lasting only a short time).

2- hemorrhagic stroke

A hemorrhagic stroke involves a blockage that really causes a rupture of a blood vessel that carries oxygenated blood to the brain. This causes the blood to move into areas of the brain apart from the blood vessel that was intended. This could successively cause increased intracranial pressure (or extra pressure to the brain).

There are 2 forms of hemorrhagic strokes: the first is an aneurysm, that causes a portion of the weakened blood vessel to balloon outward and sometimes rupture. The other is an arteriovenous malformation, that involves abnormally formed blood vessels. If such a blood vessel ruptures, it will cause a hemorrhagic stroke.

 

Diagnosis and symptoms

 

F.A.S.T is the best acronym to remember the symptoms of strokes easily. (Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, and Time).
The different stroke types cause almost the same symptoms because they all affect blood flow to your brain. The only way to determine what kind of stroke you may be having is to seek medical attention. A doctor can order imaging tests to look at your brain.

The National Stroke Association recommends the fast technique to help identify the warning signs of a stroke:

• Face: when you smile, does one aspect of your face droop?
• Arms: when you raise both arms, does one arm drift down?
• Speech: can you speak easily? Are you having trouble talking?
• Time: If you expertise any of those symptoms, call emergency immediately.

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Additional symptoms include:

• Sudden confusion, like difficulty understanding what someone is saying
• Difficulty walking, sudden dizziness, or loss of coordination
• A sudden and severe headache that doesn’t have any other known cause
• Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
A transient ischemic attack can cause these symptoms for a short amount of time, sometimes anywhere from one to 5 minutes. However, you shouldn’t ignore stroke symptoms, even if they go away quickly.

Complications of strokes

A stroke is a medical emergency for a reason — it can have life-threatening consequences. The brain controls the most important functions of human life. Without blood flow, your brain can’t manage respiration, blood pressure, and much more. Complications will vary according to the stroke kind and if you’re able to successfully receive treatment.

Examples of complications include:

Behavior changes: Having a stroke can contribute to depression or anxiety. Furthermore, you may experience changes in your behavior, such as being additional impulsive or a lot of withdrawn from socializing with others.

Speech difficulties: A stroke will impact areas of your brain having to do with speech and swallowing. As a result, you’ll have difficulty reading, writing, or understanding other people when they’re speaking.

Numbness or pain: A stroke will cause numbness and diminished sensation in parts of your body. This could be painful. Sometimes injury to the brain may also have an effect on your ability to sense temperature. This condition is known as central stroke pain and may be difficult to treat.

Paralysis: due to the way your brain works to direct movement, a stroke in the right aspect of your brain will affect movement on the left side of your body and vice-versa. Those who’ve had a stroke might not be able to use facial muscles or move an arm on one aspect.

You may regain the most of the lost motor functions as, speech, and swallowing abilities after a stroke through rehabilitation. However, these will take time to regain.

Treatments

Treatments for stroke depend on several factors. These include what kind it’s and how long it lasted. The earlier you can seek help after a stroke, the more likely you’ll have a much better recovery.

TIA
Treatments for TIA  is accompanied by taking medicines that may help prevent future strokes. These medicines include antiplatelets and anticoagulants.

Antiplatelets reduce the chance that components of your blood called platelets can stick together and cause a clot. Aspirin (Bufferin) and clopidogrel (Plavix) or antiplatelet medications.

Anticoagulants are medicines that reduce the buildup of clotting proteins. Many different kinds of those medications exist, including warfarin (Coumadin) and dabigatran (Pradaxa).

Finally, a doctor may recommend a surgery known as a carotid endarterectomy. This removes plaque buildup in the carotid artery of your neck, that is a major cause of stroke.

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