Sunday, July 9, 2023

Stroke: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

 A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is cut off, causing brain cells to die within minutes. Strokes can be caused by a blocked blood vessel (ischemic stroke) or bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke) 

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Symptoms

The symptoms of a stroke can come on suddenly and include:
  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
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If you or someone else is experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to call 911 immediately. Every minute counts, and fast treatment can lessen the brain damage that stroke can cause
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Diagnosis

Tests to diagnose stroke include:
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: Uses X-rays to take clear, detailed pictures of your brain. It is often done right after a stroke is suspected. A brain CT scan can show if there is bleeding in the brain or damage to the brain cells from a stroke
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  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the brain. It can detect brain tissue damaged by an ischemic stroke or bleeding in the brain from a hemorrhagic stroke
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  • Carotid ultrasound: Uses sound waves to create images of the carotid arteries in the neck to check for blockages that can cause a stroke
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  • Echocardiogram: Uses sound waves to create images of the heart to check for blood clots that can cause a stroke
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Causes and Risk Factors

Some of the risk factors for stroke include:
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Obesity
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Atrial fibrillation (a type of irregular heartbeat) 
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Treatment

The main treatment for an ischemic stroke is a medicine called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which breaks up the blood clots that block blood flow to your brain. A doctor will inject tPA into a vein in your arm. This type of medicine must be given within 3 hours after your symptoms start
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 Unfortunately, many stroke victims don’t get to the hospital in time for tPA treatment. This is why it’s so important to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke right away and call 9-1-1. Doctors may also treat ischemic stroke with other medicines, such as blood thinners, as well as surgery to remove the clot
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Other medicines, surgery, or procedures may be needed to stop the bleeding from hemorrhagic stroke and save brain tissue. For example, a neurosurgeon may perform surgery to remove the blood clot or repair a ruptured blood vessel
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Prevention

There are steps you can take to lower your risk of stroke, such as:
  • Controlling high blood pressure
  • Not smoking
  • Managing diabetes
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats
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Remember, recognizing the signs and symptoms of stroke and acting quickly can save lives and prevent long-term disability.

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