HomeFaq'sBrain Stroke – Symptoms, Risk Factors and Treatment

Brain Stroke – Symptoms, Risk Factors and Treatment

What is Brain Stroke?

Brain Stroke is a Neurological condition where a patient develops a focal deficit like weakness of one half of the body, slurred speech or sudden loss of consciousness.
There are two forms of stroke:

  • Ischemic Stroke – Blockage or narrowing of blood vessel supplying blood to the brain, leading to severely reduced blood flow (ischemia)
  • Hemorrhagic Stroke – Bleeding around or into the brain. Brain cells die when they no longer receive oxygen and nutrients from the blood or when there is a sudden bleeding into or around the brain.

What are the symptoms of a Brain Stroke?

Recent studies have shown that the awareness of stroke symptoms among general population is very low, unlike in the case of a heart attack. Here are a few:

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

Why can’t some victims identify Brain Stroke symptoms?

Stroke damages the brain, hence, person may not be able to recognize one’s own problems. To a lay-man or bystander, the stroke patient may seem unaware or confused as stroke may present as disorientation, loss of comprehension and consciousness.

How to identify a patient of Brain Stroke?

The FAST acronym is useful to identify Stroke:

  • Face Drooping — Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?
  • Arm Weakness — Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty — Is speech slurred?
  • Time to call Apollo Emergency — If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call Apollo Emergency and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you will know when the first symptoms appeared.

What should a layperson or a bystander do during a Stroke?

Stroke is a medical emergency. During a Stroke, a layperson should know the signs and act on time. Initiating stroke treatment immediately may save someone’s life and enhance his/her chances for successful rehabilitation as well as recovery.

What are the risk factors for Stroke?

Common risk factors include high blood pressure, heart disease, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, or a family history of stroke, and elderly age i.e. above 65 years of age.

Is there any treatment for Brain Stroke?

YES. There are three treatment stages for Brain Stroke:

Prevention

One in 4 people worldwide are at risk of Brain Stroke in their lifetime. However, almost all strokes can be prevented by addressing a number of key risk factors and taking a few simple steps. Here are some tips that help to reduce our risk of stroke.

  1. Control high blood pressure: Half of all strokes are linked to hypertension. Knowing your blood pressure and controlling it with lifestyle change or medication will reduce your risk of stroke.
  2. Exercise 5 times per week: Over a third of all strokes happen to people who don’t get enough exercise – 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise five times per week will reduce your stroke risk.
  3. Reduce your cholesterol: Over 1 in 4 strokes are linked to high levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. Eating less of saturated fats, avoiding processed food and exercise will help to reduce your risk. If you can’t maintain a healthy cholesterol level with lifestyle changes, your doctor may advise medication to help.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight: Almost 1 in 5 strokes are linked to being overweight or obese. Maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) or Hip to Waist Ratio will help you reduce your risk of stroke.
  5. Stop smoking and avoid smoky environments: Almost 1 in 10 strokes are linked to smoking. Stopping smoking will reduce your risk of stroke and the risks of people who live around you. Get help to quit smoking. It increases your chances of success.
  6. Reduce your alcohol intake: Over 1 Million strokes each year are linked to excessive alcohol consumption. If you drink, keep to a limit of 1-2 units of alcohol a day.
  7. Identify and treat atrial fibrillation: People with atrial fibrillation are 5x more likely to have stroke than the general population. If you are over 50 talk to your doctor about AF screening and if you have AF, be aware of treatments that will reduce your risk.
  8. Manage diabetes: If you are diabetic, you are at higher risk of stroke. Diabetes and stroke also share a number of risk factors including diet and exercise. If you have diabetes , talk to your doctor about how to reduce your stroke risk.
  9. Manage stress and depression: Almost 1 in 6 strokes are linked to mental well-being. Managing stress, depression, anger and anxiety are all important to reducing stroke risk.

Therapy immediately after the stroke

Acute stroke therapy includes use of thrombolytic drug which can be intra venous in the first 3 to 4 and half hours after onset of symptoms. This acts by dissolving the blood clot (thrombus) causing the blockage. This is called thrombolytic therapy. Mechanical thrombectomy to remove the clot can be done up to 6 to 24 hours using catheter devices.

Therapies to thwart or prevent first or recurrent Brain Stroke are based on treating a person’s underlying risk factors for stroke, like atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Post-stroke rehabilitation

Post-stroke rehabilitation helps individuals overcome disabilities that result from stroke damage by way of physiotherapy, which is an integral part of management of stroke .

What is the prognosis of Stroke?

Ischemic Stroke can be completely reversed if managed within four and half hours of development of symptoms. Hemiplegia, complete paralysis on one side of body, is a common disability resulting from Brain stroke. Other disabilities include:

  • Hemiparesis, weakness of the entire one side of our body
  • Problems with thinking
  • Awareness
  • Attention
  • Learning
  • Judgment
  • Memory

Good physiotherapy and rehabilitation improves the outcome in most patients.

What can be done to reduce risk of Stroke?

To reduce your risk of Brain Stroke, monitor blood pressure, track your cholesterol level, stop smoking, exercise regularly, and consult your doctor regularly and promptly for any health concern . Annual health checks go a long way in early detection and reversal of risk factors.

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Verified By Dr Sandeep Nayani
MBBS, MD (Manipal University), DM Neurology (SCTIMST, Trivandrum), Consultant Neurologist, Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad
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