Stroke Symptoms, Causes and Treatment – What you should know!

Can Stroke Kill You?

The straightforward answer is Yes! Stroke is one of the leading causes for death and disability in the US. It is defined as brain attack. Stroke symptoms come on quickly and without warning. There are different types of stroke caused by different conditions. The most common type is called an ischemic stroke which occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery to the brain, depriving it of oxygen-rich blood.

Man experiencing stroke symptoms and severe chest pain

Is Stroke a Disease?

Yes, stroke is a cerebrovascular disease. A stroke happens when the blood flow to the brain is blocked. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients that are necessary for healthy brain function. When this happens, brain cells may die or become damaged, which can lead to permanent disability. The blockage prevents oxygen from reaching brain cells, resulting in injury or death.

Top Stroke Signs and Symptoms

Stroke symptoms can vary greatly depending on which part of the brain has been affected. A stroke in brain can cause a range of symptoms from mild weakness to total paralysis and loss of speech!

Major Stroke Warning Signs:

  1. Severe chest pain
  2. Drooping one side of the face
  3. Loss of consciousness
  4. Loss of the ability to communicate
  5. Numbness on the right side of the body
  6. Slurred speech
  7. Trouble seeing (blurred vision in one eye)
  8. Difficulty walking

Other stroke symptoms include: severe headache, strange behavior or mood changes, difficulty swallowing or breathing, dizziness or vertigo lasting more than a few seconds.

If you have these symptoms, medical attention should be sought immediately.

What Causes a Stroke?

The most common stroke causes of first strokes can be caused by a variety of factors. They may be due to ischemic strokes that occur when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, or they may occur when a clot is formed in an artery and blocks the flow of blood.

One of the main causes of stroke is having plaque buildup in the arteries, which blocks blood flow to the brain. This can happen if you:

  1. Don’t exercise regularly
  2. Don’t eat healthy foods
  3. Smoke or vape
  4. Drink alcohol
  5. Taking drugs such as Cocaine and Methamphetamine

Smoking and alcohol drinking are stroke causes

Strokes also happen more often in people with the following medication conditions:

  1. High blood pressure (hypertension)
  2. Diabetes
  3. Heart disease

Other causes of stroke include bleeding in the brain’s tissue and embolisms. A person can also have a stroke in brain if a clot breaks off from a larger clot or a heart attack and travels to the brain.

Stroke Versus Heart Attack

The confusion between a stroke and a heart attack is common. The main difference is the cause. A heart attack happens when the arteries leading to your heart get clogged, usually with fat or cholesterol. This causes reduced oxygen to flow to the heart. In contrast, a stroke is caused by an interruption in blood flow to the brain, due to blood clots or ruptured blood vessels in the brain.

The stroke symptoms are typically different from those of a heart attack. A sudden disturbance of oxygen to the heart may trigger an attack, such as being startled or stressed. It’s important to know the symptoms so you can get emergency help right away.

Doctor explains about stroke versus heart attack

Heart attack symptoms often include chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, high blood pressure, and cold sweat on your upper body.

Stroke Versus Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s palsy is a type of neuropathy, which is the interruption of messages from one part of the body to another due to uneven distribution of pressure on the nerves. Strokes are brain lesions. A lesion occurs when a part of your brain does not get enough blood or oxygen. A stroke in brain is a medical emergency. It occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts or clots and cuts off the artery. Bell’s palsy, on the other hand, is an acute paralysis that affects one side of the face. Bell’s palsy only affects the facial nerve and it does not cause significant brain damage.

Bell’s palsy usually resolves within two to three months, but it can take years for some people to recover all movement related to facial muscles.

Stroke Versus Aneurysms

Strokes and aneurysms both happen when there is a blockage in an artery. The difference is that a stroke happens as the result of a clot or ruptured blood vessel, while aneurysms can form as a result of high blood pressure. An aneurysm may also rupture and cause bleeding in the brain, but it can usually be repaired with surgery.

An aneurysm is a bulge in the wall of an artery that can burst and cause bleeding or even death. A stroke is not reversible but an aneurysm can be repaired if diagnosed early.

Stroke in Cerebellum

The cerebellum is located at the base of the brain, beneath the two hemispheres that control voluntary muscle movements. The cerebellum contains about 60% of all nerve cells in our brain and if it is damaged by a stroke, which is less common to happy in the cerebellum area, it does not heal well resulting in significant disabilities. Common stroke symptoms in cerebellum include difficulty balancing, walking or coordinating movements.

Doctor examins stroke patient brain x-ray photo

Stroke in Thalamus

The thalamus is located at a deep center region of the brain which is responsible for receiving, interpreting, and sending nerve impulses to different parts of the body. When a stroke occurs in this region, it disrupts that communication, leading to various symptoms depending on the affected areas of the brain. A stroke in thalamus could cause drooping of one side of your face, paralysis from one side from your body, or an inability to speak.

Stroke Treatment Options

Can stroke be treated?

Fortunately, yes many strokes can be treated and the damage repaired. Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is a medication that helps with clot dissolving and is very effective when taken as soon as possible after a stroke occurs. Other treatments include blood pressure medications, anti-convulsants, anticoagulants, and stroke rehabilitation therapy.

There are three types of stroke treatment options:

1. Medical Care

Medical care is the natural treatment for stroke patients. The goal is to stabilize the patient and prevent any further injury to the brain.

2. Neuroprotective Drugs

Neuroprotective drugs help reduce neurological damage in people who have had a stroke by preventing further cell death and limiting inflammation.

3. Surgical

Surgery is another treatment option that involves removing the clot in the affected artery; there is a risk of damaging blood vessels and causing future strokes when doing this, but it may be necessary in case of an aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation.

Stroke Medication

There are a variety of treatments to help control stroke symptoms. One option is a medication called a thrombolytic. This drug is given to dissolve the clot that caused the stroke in the first place. Another treatment is a medication that helps prevent future strokes, known as an antiplatelet or antiaggregant agent.

Female patient taking stroke treatment medication

When you have a stroke, it is important to get the right medication. The stroke medication tPA can help reduce the risk of disability for those who receive it within 3 hours of having a stroke. This medication dissolves the clot that is causing your blood vessels to narrow, which improves blood flow to your brain.

Stroke medications are usually given when the patient arrives at the emergency room. This can include aspirin, clopidogrel, and statins. They do not work to reverse the damage that has already occurred. Instead they prevent future strokes by lowering cholesterol in blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the brain.

Stroke medication must be taken under medical supervision only.

The best treatment is always the prevention!

Stroke Prevention Methods

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 800,000 people in the United States experience a stroke in brain each year. Strokes can happen at any age, but are mostly seen in adults age 65 or older. Research shows that strokes are one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. However, there are some things you can do to prevent a stroke, should you have high-risk factors.

It is possible to prevent a stroke by changing some of your lifestyle habits. The American Stroke Association recommends the following stroke prevention advices:

  1. Quitting smoking
  2. Stopping alcohol intake
  3. Maintaining regular exercise
  4. Eating healthy diet
  5. Controlling diabetes
  6. Controlling blood pressure
  7. Taking your medications as prescribed

Hypertension and diabetes are stroke causes

Although these measures may not completely eliminate the risk of a stroke, they will drastically reduce it. It is also possible to reduce the risk of having a second stroke by limiting physical activity in the 24 hours following the first one.

Stroke and Cholesterol

Strokes are caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain because an artery is blocked. The blockage is usually caused by cholesterol deposits, which can be caused by eating a lot of saturated fat from red meat, dairy products, and eggs.

Low-cholesterol diets and statins can help prevent stroke and heart disease. You may not know this, but cholesterol can cause plaque build-up in arteries. If the artery becomes too narrow due to this plaque buildup, it can lead to a stroke.

High LDL cholesterol is the most common cause of plaque buildup and can lead to a stroke. You should lower your cholesterol levels using some kind of lifestyle change or drug treatment if you have stroke symptoms.

Stroke and Hypertension

Many people do not know that stroke is often caused by hypertension (high blood pressure). High blood pressure steadily damages the inner walls of your arteries. If high blood pressure becomes high enough, it can cause a sudden rupture in one of these weakened artery walls, which leads to the formation of a clot. If this clot blocks the flow of blood to your brain, it can lead to a stroke.

The most common causes of hypertension are smoking, eating too much salt, and not getting enough exercise.

Stroke and Diabetes

The June 2008 issue of the American Diabetes Association newsletter, Diabetes Forecast, reports that a new study by researchers at the University of Colorado, Denver and the VA Medical Center in Denver found that people with diabetes are 3 to 5 times more likely to have a stroke or mini-stroke than those without diabetes.

The risk of stroke for diabetic patients is up to three times higher than that of non diabetic people. The vascular system of the body is degraded and there is an increased risk for blood clots and emboli. Diabetes can also cause strokes because damage occurs to small blood vessels, which reduce blood flow to the brain, leading to a decreased supply of oxygen and glucose.

Stroke Test

It’s not uncommon for a person to experience stroke symptoms and not know what they mean. This is why it’s important to know the symptoms and have a plan should one happen. The stroke symptoms can be relieved by laying down, raising the head a little bit, and drinking fluids.

Anyone who suspects they are having a stroke should undergo a series of tests, called the Cincinnati Prehospital Stroke Scale, to help determine if they are indeed suffering from a stroke. The scale is available in English and Spanish. It consists of seven questions that must be answered yes or no in order to assess level of consciousness, speech, vision, facial droop, arm drift, leg strength and leg reflexes. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to get in touch with your doctor or rushed to the hospital immediately.

ABCD Stroke Test

It’s also possible to take a quick test in order to find out if there’s significant risk. This test is called the ABCD2 Test and is used by emergency departments in hospitals. The A stands for “ask” meaning ask the person questions about what happened. The B stands for “brow” which refers to the part of the face that has fallen down or has drooped on one side. The C stands for “check” for other neurological signs like confusion, difficulty speaking, difficulty swallowing, double vision, lack of coordination, and decreased sensation on one side of the body. The D stands for “do.”

What is Stroke Severity?

Stroke severity is given on the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS). The scale rates stroke severity on a points system, with higher numbers indicating more severe damage or disability. Generalized weakness and numbness in the face, arm, and leg on one side of the body can indicate a high stroke severity.

Stroke Recovery

Strokes have a major effect on a person’s quality of life. Doctors will work to prevent progression of the stroke symptoms by treating the airway, breathing, and circulation issues. Stroke recovery (stroke rehabilitation / stroke therapy) is possible but it will take time depending on how severe the stroke was.

Stroke recovery of a male patient

The recovery process for stroke survivors can be very long. Some people may never fully recover. It is important to remember that there are many ways to live a fulfilling life with a stroke disability.

One of the most important things that will help you in stroke recovery journey is having an active lifestyle. This means working towards remission, maintaining an enjoyable social life, and taking care of your mental well-being.

Stroke rehabilitation and therapy exercises can be conducted under medical supervision to ensure a smooth recovery and avoid any injury or negative consequences.

Conclusion

Can stroke cause death?

Yes, or may cause permanent disability! Therefore, this disease must not be taken lightly.

A stroke in brain can cause a variety of neurological problems. It’s important to know what they are and how you can recover from them. There are many treatment options available that can help those suffering from strokes. The stroke symptoms happens quickly, they can be painless or they can cause paralysis.

Some of the most common stroke symptoms are trouble speaking, feeling like you’re moving slower than usual, and weakness on one side of your body.

Diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure) both increase the risk of having a stroke. It is estimated that one-third of adults with diabetes will have a first stroke, and up to 40% of those will die as a result. Therefore, it’s really important that you take a good care of your health and to control these two diseases to avoid having a stroke.

Hospital emergency rescue stroke patient

If you think that someone may have had a stroke, call 911 immediately. Stroke is a serious condition that needs urgent care to avoid permanent damage.

Stroke medication and treatment needs to be prescribed by the doctor, do not risk taking any drug on your own.

Stroke prevention is the best treatment which can be achieved through exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, drinking lots of water, stopping drugs, stopping alcohol, quitting smoking, sleeping well and avoiding stress as possible!

Stroke Related References & Resources:

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