Stroke - Symptoms, cause, treatment, prevention, home remedy

Stroke

A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of brain is interrupted or reduced. A stroke is a “brain attack” which can happen to anyone at any time.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke. A stroke is a medical emergency and requires prompt treatment. When a stroke occurs, within minutes the brain cells begin to die.

Stroke is treatable and preventable. Prevention is always the best weapon against stroke.

Symptoms

If you have any of these or notice someone with these, call 911.

  • trouble in speaking or understanding
  • sudden numbness or weakness in face, arm or leg
  • sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • sudden severe headache with no known causes

Bear F.A.S.T. in mind

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to memorize the warning signs of stroke.

F. stands for face – ask a person to smile, if one side of the face drops, it’s a stroke.

A. stands for arm – ask a person to raise both arms, if one arm drift downward, it’s a stroke.

S. stands for speech – ask a person to repeat a simple phrase, if it’s slurred or strange, it’s a stroke.

T. stands for time – if you obseve any of these, call 911 immediately. Never wait to see the symptoms go away or not. Every minute counts.

Note the time of the first symptom

The time of the first symptom is a piece of important information and can affect treatment decisions.

Causes

The three main types of stroke are:

  • Ischemic stroke
  • Hemorrhagic stroke
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA, a warning or “mini-stroke”)

Ischemic stroke

Around 87% of stroke are ischemic strokes. An ischemic stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain becomes blocked, the brain is cut off from oxygen-rich blood. The cut-off is often caused by a blood clot.

When the blood clot forms in one of the arteris, it’s called a thrombotic(means blood clot) stroke.

When the blood clot forms somewhere else, e.g. in the heart, and is swept through your bloodstream to lodge in narrower brain arteries, it’s called an embolic stroke.

Hemorrhagic stroke

A hemorrhagic stroke happens when an artery in the brain ruptures or leaks blood. High blood pressure and aneurysms are the common causes to hemorrhagic stroke, overtreatment with blood thinners is also a cause.

When an artery in the brain bursts, flooding the surrounding tissue with blood, it’s called intracerebral hemorrhage.

When the bleeding is in the area between the brain and the thin tissues that cover it, it’s called subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Transient ischemic Attack (TIA)

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is sometimes called a “mini-stroke.” A TIA is usually no more than 5 minutes blockage of blood to the brain, some may notice they had it but recovered in a while, even in this case, a TIA should not be ignored and it’s still a medical emergency, because a TIA is a warning sign of a future stroke.

Statistics show that 10% to 15% of people who have a TIA and don’t get treatment will have a major stroke within 3 months of a TIA with the greatest risk in the first week , and more than a third of people have a major stroke within 1 year.

Treatment

No.1 rule – call 911. Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Calling an ambulance means the life-saving treatment begins on the way to emergency room. Yet a third of stroke patients never calls 9-1-1. The emergency workers may take you to a specialized stroke center to ensure that you receive the quickest possible diagnosis and treatment. The emergency workers will also collect valuable information that guides treatment and alert hospital medical staff before you arrive at the emergency room, giving them time to prepare.

Diagnosis

When you arrive at the hospital, the emergency medical team needs to evaluate the type of stroke you’re having and the areas of your brain affected by the stroke. Your doctors may do several of the following tests.

  • Physcial examination
  • Blood test
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Carotid ultrasound
  • Cerebral angiogram
  • Echocardiogram

Ischemic stroke

Within 3 hours of the first symptoms of an ischemic stroke, patients may get a “clot-busting” drug called thrombolytic to break up blood clots. Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is a thrombolytic.

Getting tPA injection means better recovery, patients who arrive at hospital in time and get tPA are more likely to recover fully or have less disability. Unfortunately, many stroke patients don’t get to the hospital in time for tPA treatment, that’s why recognizing the first symptom and calling 911 matter so much.

Endovascular procedures may be needed to remove the blood clot. Your doctor inserts a long tube through a major artery in the leg or arm and then guides the tube to the site, deliver tPA directly into the area(“intra-arterial thrombolysis”), or remove the blood clot with a stent retriever. An endovascular procedure is less invassive than surgeries.

Hemorrhagic stroke

Treatment for hemorrhagic stroke focuses on controlling the bleeding and hence reducing pressure in the brain.

Medications will be given. If you take warfarin or anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel to prevent blood clots, you may be given drugs counteract the blood thinners’ effects. Transfusions of blood products will work the same. If the pressure in the brain is high(intracranial pressure), you will be given drugs to lower pressure, lower your blood pressure, prevent vasospasm or prevent seizures.

Endovascular procedures may be needed to stop the bleeding and save brain tissue. Once the catheter is guided to the source of the bleeding, it deposits a mechanical agent, such as a coil, to prevent further rupture.

Lower risks of having another stroke

1 of 4 stroke survivors has another stroke within 5 years, that’s why preventing a second stroke can be the most important treatment of all.

Medical treatments may include:

  • Control high blood pressure
  • Manage atrial fibrillation
  • Medications to lower the chances of forming a clot
  • Procedures to remove plaque buildup or open blockages

Your doctor may also tell you to change your diet, exercise, or adopt other healthy lifestyle habits.

Stroke rehabilitation

Stroke rehab focuses on the recovery of functioning for an independent living.

In a stroke, when the right side of your brain is affected, your left side body may be affected in both movement and sensation. When the right side of your brain is affected, your right side body may be affected.

In addition, people who survived a stroke may have problems with breathing, swallowing, balancing and vision.

Before you are discharged from the hospital, social workers can help you find care services and caregiver support to continue your long-term recovery.

Risk factors

Many factors can increase your risk of stroke. Some factors are linked to both stroke and heart attack. Knowing your risk factors helps you make a plan of prevention.

  • Age 55 or older
  • African-Americans
  • Men have a higher risk of stroke than women, but women ar more likely to die of strokes
  • High estrogen level is a risk factor of stroke, the estrogen may come from use of birth control pills or hormone therapies, or from pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Blood pressure readings higher than 120/80 mm Hg
  • Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Personal or family history of stroke, heart attack or transient ischemic attack
  • Obesity
  • Physcial inactivity
  • Heaving drinking
  • Drug abuse

Prevention

Manage high blood pressure

Managing high blood pressure is one of the most important things to lower the risk of getting a stroke, or getting a second stroke after a stroke or TIA.

Lower your cholesterol

High cholesterol causes plaque on your arteries and raise the risk of stroke and heart attack. Read the following article to get a full understanding of high cholesterol and how to manage it effetively.

High cholesterol – Symptoms, causes, treatment, home remedy

Avoid smoking

Tabacco use or exposure to secondhand smoke raises the risk of stroke, heart attack and several types of cancers.

Manage diabetes

You can manage diabetes with diet, exercise, weight control and medication.

Maintain a healthy weight

By losing as little as 10 pounds you may lower your blood pressure and improve your cholesterol levels. You will benefit a lot from maintaining a healthy body weight. Do you know what your healthy body weight is? If you don’t, this will help you find out.

Ideal Weight Calculator

Diet rich fruits and vegetables

A diet with rich fruits and vegetables, whole grain, transfat free, unsaturated fatty acid greatly lowers your risk of stroke and heart attack. A heart healthy diet is also good for prevention of stroke.

How to prepare a heart-healthy meal?

Diet tips

To lower your risk of stroke, take these tips:

  • eat a variety of foods
  • choose more whole grains, vegetables and fruits
  • choose foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol
  • choose foods with moderate amounts of added sugar
  • choose foods with moderate amounts of salt (sodium)
  • if you drink alcoholic beverages, consult your physician and do so in moderation

Exercise regularly

Aerobic or “cardio” exercise reduces your risk of stroke in many ways.It helps in losing weight, lowering cholesterol level and lower blood pressure. It’s also good in managing blood sugar, and relieving stress.

Gradually work up to 30 minutes of activity on 4 days of each week, you can choose walking, jogging, swimming, or bicycling.

Limit alcohol

If you can’t quit alcohol, discuss with your doctor how much you may drink every day. Alcohol has a connection with blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, it may interact with some of the medications that you’re taking. Your neighbour’s doctor allows him drinking a glass of wine each day doens’t mean it will work for you.

Treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

If you have OSA, discuss with your doctor so you can get an overnight oxygen assessment, and devices that help you breathe during sleep.

Avoid illegal drugs

Certain street drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamines, are established risk factors for a TIA or a stroke. Cocaine reduces blood flow and can narrow the arteries.

Take drugs

If your doctor gives you anti-platelet drugs or anticoagulants, take them as directd by your doctor. Never stopping taking them without letting your doctor know.

Anti-platelet drugs make these cells less sticky and less likely to clot. The most commonly used anti-platelet medication is aspirin, others include Aggrenox and clopidogrel. Aggrenox is a combination of low-dose aspirin and the anti-platelet drug dipyridamole. Clopidogrel is an alternative when you can’t take aspirin.

Anticoagulants which include heparin and warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven), reduce blood clotting. Heparin is fast acting and may be used over a short period of time in the hospital. Slower acting warfarin may be used over a longer term.

Home remedy

  • Nattokinase

Nattokinase is an enzyme extracted from a popular Japanese food called natto. Natto is boiled soybeans that have been fermented with a type of bacteria. Natto is the everyday food in Japanese dinner table, for hundreds of years it’s been used to help heart and blood vessel diseases. If you go to Japan, you’d see many men 60-70 years old driving shuttle buses, the rate of heart disease and stroke in the elderly is much lower in Japan thanks to the Natto intake.

Nattokinase helps to reduce the plaque on the wall of the blood vessels, it can be found only in Natto since the fermenting process of Natto is very special.

Today you can get supplements made of Nattokinase in vitamin shops. A tip is to choose those with at least 2,000 FU.

Latest

Sep 4, 2019

Vegetarian (including vegan) and pescetarian diets may be linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease, but vegetarians and vegans had a higher risk of stroke than meat eaters, particularly hemorrhagic stroke (when blood from an artery starts bleeding into the brain), which the researchers suggest may reflect low blood levels of total cholesterol or a low intake of certain vitamins.

The search was conducted by Nuffield Department of Population Health, Oxford University.

The study shows pescetarians and vegetarians had a 13% and 22% lower risk of CHD than meat eaters, respectively. The difference may be at least partly due to lower BMI and lower rates of high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes linked to these diets.

In contrast, vegetarians and vegans had a 20% higher risk of stroke than meat eaters, mainly due to a higher rate of hemorrhagic stroke.

Vegetarians and vegans in the study had lower circulating cholesterol and levels of several nutrients than meat eaters (e.g. vitamin B12), which could explain these findings, the authors suggest.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.