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Stroke Information

 

What are some causes of Strokes?

Stroke is a permanent disease which occurs due to the sudden death of brain cells because of insufficient supply of oxygen. This happens when the blood vessel that supplies oxygen and other nutrients to the brain gets clogged by blood clots or bursts. Due to this the brain lacks in oxygen resulting in the death of nerve cells in the brain. Stroke is a permanent disease because the dead nerve cells of the brain cannot be replaced.

 Types of stoke:

There are two main types of stroke:

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Ischemic stroke

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Hemorrhagic stroke

Ischemic stroke This is the most common type of stroke and is caused by blockage of blood vessel. Eighty eight percent of strokes are usually of this type. When the artery of the brain gets blocked by a blood clot it is called as cerebral thrombotic stroke and is often preceded by an ischemic attack.

 

Causes of stroke

Strokes are caused possibly due to the following conditions which include:

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Atherosclerosis Build up of cholesterol or fatty acids (plague) inside the wall of the arteries that carry oxygen and blood to heart, brain and other parts of the body. The condition known as Atherosclerosis is the root cause for cardiovascular diseases.

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Cardiac arrest Failure of the heart ventricles to contract periodically due to ventricular fibrillation results in oxygen lack and the death of heart.

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Embolism This is caused by the blockage of blood vessel by a foreign matter that is carried from a distant site through the blood stream.

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Hypertension This is the condition of high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the measure of force of blood against the walls of blood vessels. Blood pressure that is high over a long time causes hypertension.

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Transient ischemic attack Frequent neurologic dysfunction caused by cerebral ischemia which usually occurs when the patient is active. This attack remains for few seconds to several hours.
Thrombosis Presence of a clot of coagulated blood also called as thrombus in the blood vessel.

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Subarachnoid hemorrhage This is the result of rupturing of blood vessel on brain?s surface resulting in loss of blood supply to the brain and death of brain cells

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Cerebral hemorrhage This is the condition of bleeding in the brain i.e. into cerebral hemisphere of the brain including the subcortical white matter. The bleeding is because of the ruptured blood vessel.

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Cerebral aneurysm is the swelling of the blood vessel that may rupture. It is the commoncerebrovascular disorder that may result from congenital defects, head injury, hypertension etc.

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Subdural hematomas is a collection of pus in the brain caused by bacteria or a fungus which is also called as a brain abscess.

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Certain drugs such as cocaine or amphetamines may also result in strokes.

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Imbalance of certain substances such as sodium, calcium or glucose in the body can be a cause for the strike since they cause changes in the nervous system.

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The other causes include congenital cerebral aneurysm and ruptured cerebral aneurysm and Stokes Adams syndrome.

 

Signs or symptoms of stroke

Strokes which are small may not cause any symptoms but they may still damage the brain tissues. Such strokes are called silent strokes.

Strokes are usually recognized by the following:

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A person may feel weak or get paralyzed on any side of the body. This is the most common syndrome.

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Breathlessness.

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A person may loose his/her speech and the muscles of the face get weaker. Numbness in the legs, arms or face is common.

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Partial or complete loss of controlled movement and sensation in the legs or arms.

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If the base of the brain is affected due to stroke then it can affect vision and swallowing conditions.

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Unconsciousness.

The symptoms described above may occur in either one or both sides of the body depending on how severe the stroke is for the person having it. Symptoms may vary in each individual and may not match as described above for every person.

 

Diagnosis or treatments

Following are certain tests and treatments conducted for strokes:

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MRI Scan (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

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Carotid Doppler Ultrasound

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CAT Scan

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TPA

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Blood tests

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Conventional angiogram

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Heart tests

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Rehabilitation

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Use of Heparin and Aspirin

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Treating diabetes

 

MRI Scan This type of scan uses magnetic waves which are harmless rather than X-rays to view the brain. MRI scan takes detailed pictures compared to other scans such as CAT. The only disadvantage of this type of scan is that people with medical devices such as pacemakers cannot be exposed to magnetic field of MRI scan.

Carotid Doppler Ultrasound This type of scan uses sound waves to find the narrowings and decreased blood flow in the artery. It is used without injecting or placing tubes.

CAT Scan It is also called as CT scan and is used to determine bleeding into the brain performed by a special x-ray test.

TPA It stands for tissue plasminogen activator, a medicine given as an immediate treatment for strokes. It is injected through veins and if done within the first three hours of symptoms it can improve the patient?s stroke over long term.

Blood tests Blood tests are done to measure certain blood proteins that thicken the blood thereby increasing the chances of stroke.

Conventional angiogram This test is conducted to view a clear picture of the blood vessels. Usually a long catheter tube is inserted along with a dye and x-rays are taken simultaneously.

Heart tests Sound wave tests such as echocardiogram are done to evaluate the heart function in order to search an embolism. This test is done by placing the device on the chest or below the food pipe.

Rehabilitation This process is basically done to improve the patient?s functional abilities after a stroke. It includes

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Physical treatment to improve walking.

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Speech therapy to improve swallowing and talking.

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Family education to help them face challenges in life.

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Occupational therapy to regain strength in arms and hands.

Use of Heparin and Aspirin Anticoagulants such as Heparin and aspirin is given to thin the blood hoping in improving the patient?s recovery. These drugs have a measurable or small effect on recovery.

Treating diabetes Blood sugar control is essential to prevent the risk of stroke in diabetes patients. An increase in the level of blood cholesterol causes block in blood vessels of the brain. When these blood vessels block in the brain smaller strokes may occur.

Research is done on additional drugs that dissolve the clot. The study is mainly done to find which stroke patients are benefited out of it. These drugs are injected through the veins and are known as ?neuroprotective? agents. Examples include sipatrigine and chlormethiazole. Impact of stroke are bad in United States wherein about 400,000 people suffer each year from stroke out of which around 40% is fatal.

 

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