What is a Stroke?
Stroke is a cerebrovascular disease where the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients. Brain cells begin to die in minutes.
This medical condition occurs when the oxygen-carrying blood vessel (the arteries) gets blocked due to a clot in the vessels or due to bursting or rupturing and bleeding of blood vessels in the brain. When the blood flowis disturbed , the necessary oxygen is not supplied to the brain’s tissues and hence, brain cells get damaged and eventually die in minutes .
According to a survey, it is found that every year more than 7.95 lakh people are affected by and die of stroke across countries. Stroke is treatable provided the treatment is given on time .
What are the different types of stroke?
Stroke can be of three types as follows:
- Ischemic Stroke– This is the most common type of stroke in which any blood vessel that carries blood to the brain gets obstructed in the vessel leading to a blood clot in the brain. Eventually, the brain cells die due to lack of supply in oxygen and essential nutrients. Almost 87% of stroke cases are affected by an ischemic stroke.
- Hemorrhagic Stroke– This is related to bleeding in the brain, which causes the neighbouring brain cells to get damaged and die eventually, resulting in a stroke that can be fatal.
- Transient Ischemic Attack or Mini-Stroke– This is similar to an ischemic stroke, also called a mini-stroke. In this type, a temporary blockage in the blood flow to the brain occurs. This kind of stroke usually lasts for a few minutes or fades away in 24 hours. In rare cases, this stroke may not be even felt by the individual.
Symptoms of Ischemic Stroke
- Sudden numbness on one side of the body, such as the face, arm or leg
- Slurring and loss of speech
- Loss of balance or coordination
- Trouble in walking
- Loss of vision
An ischemic stroke is often caused by atherosclerosis. Fatty substances called plaques get accumulated in the arterial walls , and the blood flow through arteries slows down. This gradually makes the blood clot as well ,
Few other causes of ischemic stroke other than atherosclerosis are:
- History of problems with heart valves
- Previous heart attacks
- Any injury to blood vessels around the neck region
- Person more prone to a blood clotting problem
- Atrial fibrillation (irregular rhytnm in the heart that leads to a blood clot)
Ischemic stroke can be further classified into two main types such as:
- Thrombotic strokes- In this, the stroke is caused due to the blood clot in the artery that carries blood to the brain.
- Embolic strokes- This Stroke is caused when the blood clot happens elsewhere in the body and that clot is carried to the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain and obstruct the flow of blood.
Symptoms of Transient Ischemic Attack or Mini-Stroke
The symptoms include more or less, similar to an ischemic stroke. They are:
- Numbness on one side of the body
- Loss of coordination
- Trouble understanding the situation
- Severe headaches and
- Vision issues
- Slurring and speech problems
TIA usually happens when the blood carrying vessels to the brain tighten and narrow. In some cases, it can also be due to clots.
Some reasons that make the persons likely to get TIA are:
- History of strokes
- Atrial Fibrillation
- Smoking and consumption of alcohol
- Heart diseases, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure
Mini-strokes usually come as a sign of warning that the person might soon have an ischemic stroke. Hence, in such cases, it is ideal to consider medical treatment without any delay .
Symptoms of Hemorrhagic Stroke
Symptoms of hemorrhagic Stroke usually begin slowly and increase over time. Below are some of the symptoms:
- Intense headache: A few people describe it as worst headache they have ever had
- Sensitivity to light
- Nausea or throwing up
- Passing out
- Problems with vision
Some of the common causes of a hemorrhagic stroke are:
- Problems with blood vessels
- History of bleeding disorders
- Aneurysm – a condition in which the weak area of the artery swells and breaks
The hemorrhagic stroke can be further divided into two types based on the location of the bleeding:
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage– bleeding happens in the region between the brain and skull
- Intracerebral hemorrhage- this is internal bleeding of the brain. This usually happens in head injury .
How to prevent stroke
Stroke is usually a preventable disease. Below are a few tips to prevent stroke from affecting individuals.
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting the consumption of alcohol
- Maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle
- Consuming a diet that improves the blood circulation throughout the body
- Keeping diabetes in control
- Maintaining blood pressure
- Maintaining the weight to avoid becoming obese
- Exercising on a regular basis
Having a routine check-up might reduce the risk of developing stroke in the future.