What Is A Stroke?

What is a stroke? In the United States alone approximately 200 out of every 100,00 people will be affected by a stroke each year.

In the United States alone approximately 200 out of every 100,00 people will be affected by a stroke each year. Strokes as cause by a lack of blood flow and insufficient oxygen to the brain that causes the death of brain tissue. There are two types of strokes. An ischemic stroke occurs when the blood supply is cut off to a part of the brain due to the blockage of a blood vessel by a blood clot or arteriosclerosis. The hemorrhagic stroke is caused by the bursting of a blood vessel that prevents normal flow and causes blood to leak into and destroy an area of the brain.

The risk factors of a stroke include high blood pressure, age, heart disease, smoking, diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, the use of estrogens, atherosclerosis, and polycythemia. Strokes may be caused by cerebral thrombosis which accounts for approximately fifty percent of all strokes, or cerebral embolism which accounts for 30 to 35 percent of strokes, or hemorrhage which accounts for about 20 to 25 percent of strokes. Cerebral thrombosis and cerebral embolism cause a cessation of the blood supply to part of the brain while hemorrhage is a rupture of a blood vessel that causing bleeding in or over the surface of the brain.

Symptoms of a stroke may include impaired body sensation, impaired movement, headache, dizziness, confusion, visual disturbance, slurred speech, loss of speech and difficulty swallowing. In most cases the symptoms will develope in minutes or over a period of hours but in some cases the development will occur over a period of several days. How each of these symptoms affect a person will depend on the area where the stroke has occurred, the cause of the stroke and the extent of the damage. A weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, rapid loss of consciousness or coma would be symptoms that signal a serious stroke, while less severe strokes may have symptoms that are barely noticeable.



The diagnosis and treatment of a stroke will depend on the severity. Strokes should be taken seriously since there is always a chance of complications that could be fatal. Even if the symptoms of a stroke last for less than 24 hours with a full recovery following, the person experiencing the symptoms should seek medical attention. When this occurs it is called a transient ischemic attack which is a warning signal that sufficient blood is not reaching a part of the brain. When it is discovered that a person has had a stroke an ambulance should be called immediately. In most cases the person will be admitted to a hospital where CT scanning is performed to determine if the symptoms are caused by a stroke or other disorders. When a stroke is diagnosed an ECG, blood test, angiography, MRI and chest x-rays may be taken to further examine any damage.

Although around half of the patients admitted to the hospital with a stroke recover almost completely, any intellectual impairment may be permanent. A patient who is hospitalized for stroke may be treated with corticosteroid drugs, diuretic drugs or anticoagulant drugs depending on the cause and extent of damage. In most cases speech and physical therapy is recommended. If the patient is admitted in an unconscious or semi-conscious state the airway is cleared, feeding by intravenous infusion or nasogastric tube is applied and their position is changed regularly to prevent bed sores or pneumonia.

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