Types, symptoms, complications, diagnosis and treatment
A quick guide to brain stroke and its management
What is a brain stroke?
The human brain is a complex organ which depends on continuous blood supply. A disruption in blood-flow can cut vital oxygen and glucose to the brain and lead to brain death within a couple of minutes.
Stroke (also known as brain stroke or cerebrovascular accident) is a medical condition where the blood supply to a portion of the brain decreases or gets severely interrupted. It is a medical emergency wherein the cells of the brain start dying within minutes of being deprived of nutrients and oxygen due to the restriction of blood supply. The inability of brain cells (neurons) to regenerate results in permanent damage and irreversible consequences.
What are the symptoms of brain stroke?
Compared to men, women are more prone to get a brain stroke. Some of the common symptoms in men and women include:
- Blurred, blackened or double vision in one or both eyes
- Difficulty in speaking, slurring of speech and confusion
- Difficulty in walking and balancing
- Sudden severe headache with vomiting or unconsciousness
- Sudden, one-sided paralysis or numbness of an arm or leg and face, drooping of lips to one side on smiling
- Sudden headache
What are the different types and causes of brain stroke?
Based on the causes, stroke is broadly classified into three types:
Ischaemic stroke: It is the most common type of stroke and is caused due to a blockade of a blood vessel. It can be further divided into:
- Thrombotic stroke: A blood clot or thrombus, formed due to fatty deposits or plaque or other artery conditions, blocks blood flow to the
- Embolic stroke: A blood clot or bubbles of gas formed in some other part of the body, travels to the brain.
- Transient ischaemic attack (TIA): In this relatively mild type of stroke, there is a temporary obstruction in blood flow to the brain.
Hemorrhagic stroke: It is caused due to leakage or a bursting of a blood vessel in the brain. Such situations may arise due to cerebrovascular diseases like aneurysm, high blood pressure or medications that weaken the walls of the blood vessel etc.
What are the risk factors for brain stroke and how can brain stroke be prevented?
Many of the risk factors for brain stroke are related to a poor lifestyle. Some of these are:
- Sedentary and stressful living
- Chronic alcoholism
- Addictive drug abuse like cocaine
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol
- Tobacco chewing and smoking
- Disorders of sleep like obstructive sleep apnea
- Cardiovascular diseases like heart failure
Changes in lifestyle can help in prevention of brain stroke. Depending upon your risk factors, your physician or cardiologist may advise medications for brain stroke prevention, if required.
A brain stroke is a medical emergency. Quick diagnosis and prompt care from a trained emergency team of neurosurgeons, vascular surgeons, cardiologists, and neurologists can save one from a disability or fatal consequences.
How is brain stroke diagnosed?
- Physical and neurological examination
- Blood tests
- – CT or MRI scan
- – Carotid ultrasound
- – Cerebral angiogram
- – Echocardiogram
What is the treatment for brain stroke?
Treatment depends on the type of stroke.
Management of ischaemic stroke
The aim is to restore the blood flow to the brain. This is done by:
- Emergency treatment with medications
- Emergency endovascular procedures like:
- – Delivering medications directly to the brain
- – Removing theclot using a stent retriever
- Procedures to prevent recurrence of stroke
- – Carotid endarterectomy
- – Angioplasty and stentingin the arteries of the brain
Management of transient ischaemic attack stroke
- Once diagnosed,preventive treatment begins within a day of the attack. Though TIA does not cause residual damage, it is still a neurologic emergency as the risk of recurrent strokes is high.
Management of Hemorrhagic stroke
It aims at controlling the bleeding and reducing pressure build up in the brain, which can be achieved by:
- Emergency treatment with medications
- Supportive medical care
- Surgical repair of blood vessel repair like
- – Surgical clipping
- – Coiling or endovascular embolization
- – Surgical removal of Arterio Venous Malformation (AVM)
- – Stereotactic radiosurgery
How long does it take to recover from brain stroke? What are the different rehabilitation programmes?
Depending upon the area of the brain affected, severity and time lapse between stroke and emergency treatment, brain stroke may lead to temporary or permanent disabilities. Hence, rehabilitation is required for optimal recovery from stroke. Rehabilitation programs constitute a team of specialists and rehabilitation therapists with focus on:
- Regaining strength
- Recovery of functions like speech, vision, balance, breathing etc
- Return to active living
To know more about brain stroke and its management, you can request a callback and our brain stroke specialist will call you and answer all your queries.
- Stroke diagnosis. Available at:http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/WarningSigns/Stroke-Warning-Signs-and-Symptoms_UCM_308528_SubHomePage.jsp Accessed on February 21, 2018
- Mayo Clinic. Stroke. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/stroke/symptoms-causes/syc-20350113 Accessed on February 21, 2018
- Stroke Patient Education Handouts. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/materials_for_patients.htm Accessed on February 21, 2018
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