What is Stroke?
Stroke happens when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrient to the brain gets blocked by a clot or the vessel bursts or ruptures. When this happens, part of the brain does not get the blood (oxygen and nutrient) needed causing the brain cells to die. It is either called Brain Attack or Cerebrovascular accident.
Stroke is a life-threatening medical condition/emergency. Most strokes can be treated aside from a few that lead to disability or death. It can occur at any age, but there is an increase in getting a stroke as one gets older.
Symptoms of Stroke
The main symptoms of stroke can be any of this:
• The face drops to one side and the person is unable to smile.
• The mouth or eye are likely to drop.
• Inability to see clearly with one or the two eyes.
• Bowel or bladder control problem.
• Numbness in arm; inability to lift either one arm or both arms, or lifting the arms and keep it there.
• Great difficulty expressing or controlling their emotions.
• Slurred or garbled speech or inability to talk at all even when awake.
• Inability to understand what people are saying to them.
• Dizziness or loss of coordination.
• Severe or sudden headache.
Causes of Stroke or Risk Factor of Stroke
The general risk factor of stroke is:
• Old age
• Being Male
• High Blood pressure
• No physical activity
• Sleep apnea
• Cardiovascular disease
• Unhealthy alcohol consumption
• Smoking or being exposed to second-hand smoking
• Using recreational stimulant drugs
• Overweight or obese
• Genetic trait
Types of Stroke
There are 3 main types of stroke
1. Ischemic Stroke: this occurs when an artery in the brain gets blocked or obstructed, thus preventing oxygen-rich blood from being delivered to the brain cells. There are different ways the artery can be blocked, they are
• The artery gets narrow over time due to cholesterol buildup that is called Plaque. When the plaque bursts, a clot is formed at that spot preventing blood from reaching the blood cells, depriving them of oxygen. The plaque’s surface is irregular and tiny bits of the debris can break and travel to the brain blocking blood vessels; depriving brain cells of oxygen-rich blood. It occurs in Thrombotic Stroke.
• The artery can block due to debris or clot travelling from the heart or another blood vessel. Embolus or embolism is a clot, an object which travels within the bloodstream or a piece of fatty material in the bloodstream obstructing the flow of blood in a blood vessel. It occurs in Embolic Stroke.
The blood clots which embolize starts from the heart. The major cause of this is Heart Arrhythmia also called Atrial Fibrillation, here the upper chambers of the heart, the atria do not beat in organized rhythm. The blood still flows to the heart lower chambers pumping it to the body, some of the blood that are along the inner walls form small blood clots. When these clots break, they embolize or travel to the brain blocking blood flow to that part of the brain causing stroke.
2. Hemorrhagic stroke: if a blood vessel leaks, it spills blood to the tissue making the brain cell stopped working. This bleeding or haemorrhage occurs because the blood pressure is high and poorly controlled weakening the wall of the artery over time. Blood can also leak from an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), Aneurysm, an artery wall ballooning, congenital weakness, a congenital abnormality where there is an incorrect connection between an artery and vein. This bleeding can form a hematoma directly damaging brain cells and also causing swelling that puts increased pressure on the surrounding tissue. There are two types of Hemorrhagic stroke:
• Subarachnoid Hemorrhagic stroke: it is not that common. It causes bleeding in the area between the brain and the tissue covering it.
• Intracerebral Hemorrhagic stroke: this is the common type. It occurs when the tissue surrounding the brain gets filled with blood after an artery burst.
3. Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): ever felt like a part of your body just suddenly feel numb, like double vision, dizziness, loss of balance? If yes, you just experienced a Transient Ischemic Attack. It is also called a Ministroke. This occurs when the blood flow to the brain gets temporarily blocked. The area of the body that is controlled by the portion of the brain affected does not function for that period in time. Most TIA often lasts for a few minutes. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t be taken with levity.