Stroke

A stroke occurs when blood flow is cut off from part of the brain. In the same way that a person suffering a loss of blood to the heart can be said to be having a "heart attack," a person with a loss of blood to the brain can be said to be having a "brain attack." Brain cells can die from decreased blood flow and the resulting lack of oxygen. There are two kinds of stroke, haemorrhagic and ischemic. Haemorrhagic strokes are caused by bleeding within the brain. Ischemic strokes, which are far more common, are caused by a blockage of blood flow in an artery in the head or neck leading to the brain.

New treatments are available that greatly reduce the damage caused by a stroke. But you need to arrive at the hospital within 60 minutes after symptoms start to prevent disability.

Types of Stroke

There are two major kinds of stroke, Ischemic Stroke and Haemorrhagic Stroke.

Ischemic stroke is caused by a blood clot that blocks or plugs a blood vessel or artery in the brain.

Haemorrhagic Strokeis caused by a blood vessel in the brain that breaks and bleeds into the brain.

Warning Signs of a Stroke

Warning signs are clues your body sends that your brain is not receiving enough oxygen.

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Other danger signs that may occur include double vision, drowsiness, and nausea or vomiting.

Diagnosis

Physicians have several diagnostic techniques and imaging tools to help diagnose the cause of stroke quickly and accurately. The first step in diagnosis is a short neurological examination. When a possible stroke patient arrives at a hospital, a health care professional, usually a doctor or nurse will ask the patient or a companion what happened and when the symptoms began by taking a medical history. Medical Tests your stroke care team may order can include the following:

  • CT Scan
  • MRI
  • Cerebral Angiogram
  • Arteriography
  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA)
  • Carotid Duplex Doppler Ultrasound
  • Blood Tests
  • Electrocardiogram

Treatment

Initial treatment of a stroke will depend on which type of stroke is occurring, ischemic or haemorrhagic. Although there is no cure for stroke, medical and surgical treatments are available to minimize stroke damage and offer stroke victims hope for optimal recover.

Surgery can be used to prevent stroke, to treat acute stroke, or to repair vascular damage or malformations in and around the brain.

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