What Is A Stroke?
A stroke is a serious medical condition that occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. It can lead to various symptoms and complications, including paralysis, speech difficulties, and cognitive impairment. There are several types of stroke, each with unique characteristics and treatment options. According to the Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1.9 million brain cells die on average every minute a stroke goes untreated. Brain cells may be able to repair themselves if they are deprived of oxygen for a brief period. However, once brain cells die, they cannot be repaired.
Understanding the classification, symptoms, and treatment of stroke is essential for anyone who wants to protect their health and reduce their risk of experiencing a stroke. This article will explore the different types of stroke, their symptoms, and the most effective treatments available.
Stroke Symptoms can include sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, particularly on one side of the body, along with abrupt confusion, difficulty speaking, or trouble understanding speech, among stroke symptoms.
Additionally, some signs of stroke could be experiencing sudden vision impairment in one or both eyes, sudden dizziness, difficulty walking, coordination loss, and a severe headache without a known cause are all warning signs that a stroke may be imminent.
Diagnosis For A Stroke
Diagnosing a stroke typically involves a physical examination, a review of the patient’s medical history, and various imaging tests to determine the stroke’s location, type, and severity.
The physical examination may include a neurological exam to assess motor function, sensation, and reflexes. Imaging tests may be performed to visualise the brain and identify abnormalities or damage. Blood tests may also be ordered to evaluate the patient’s blood clot function, blood vessels, and sugar levels.
Signs Of Stroke
- Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body, particularly in the face, arm, or leg.
- Sudden confusion or difficulty speaking or understanding speech.
- Sudden trouble with vision in one or both eyes.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or coordination.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
It’s important to remember that these symptoms may vary depending on the type and severity of the stroke. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately, as it is a medical emergency.
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)
- Family history of stroke or heart disease
- Age (over 55 years old)
- Being overweight or obese
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol consumption
By addressing these risk factors through lifestyle changes and medical treatments, individuals can reduce their risk of experiencing a stroke.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Pre Stroke?
A transient ischemic attack (TIA), often called a mini-stroke, can have similar symptoms to a stroke but typically last only a few minutes to an hour and do not result in long-term damage.
A Transient ischemic attack is a problem with the blood supply to your brain and identifies your increased risk of a stroke. The symptoms of a Transient ischemic attack may include sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, particularly in the face, arm, or leg; temporary loss of vision in one or both eyes; difficulty speaking or understanding speech; sudden confusion or trouble with coordination or balance. These symptoms may resolve independently, but it is important to seek medical attention immediately, as a transient ischaemic attack may increase the risk of a full-blown stroke.
Anterior Cerebral Artery Stroke Symptoms
An anterior cerebral artery (ACA) stroke occurs when there is a blockage or reduced blood flow to the front part of the brain. ACA stroke symptoms can vary depending on the severity and location of the blockage.
Common aca symptoms may include sudden weakness or numbness in the legs or arms on one side of the body, difficulty with balance and coordination, confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding speech, vision problems, and changes in behaviour or personality.
Individuals may sometimes experience weakness or numbness in the face or tongue, but this is less common with anterior cerebral artery strokes.
Middle Cerebral Artery Stroke Symptoms (MCA)
A middle cerebral artery (MCA) stroke occurs when there is a blockage or reduced blood flow to the middle part of the brain. MCA stroke symptoms can vary depending on the severity and location of the blockage.
Common symptoms may include sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, particularly in the face, arm, or leg, difficulty with balance and coordination, confusion, difficulty speaking such as speech slurred or understanding speech, vision problems, and changes in behaviour or personality. Individuals may also experience a severe headache, especially if the MCA stroke is caused by a ruptured blood vessel.
Silent Stroke Symptoms
A silent stroke, also known as a silent cerebral infarction, is a type of stroke that occurs without obvious symptoms. It is often detected incidentally on brain imaging tests, such as an MRI or CT scan, performed for other reasons. While a silent stroke may not cause immediate symptoms, it can lead to long-term damage and increase the risk of future strokes. Some studies suggest that individuals who have experienced a silent stroke may be more likely to develop memory problems, difficulty with thinking and decision-making, and other cognitive impairments later in life.
Therefore, if you have any stroke risk factors, such as high blood pressure, blood clots, diabetes, or smoking history, it is important to work with your healthcare provider to identify and manage these risks to reduce the likelihood of a silent stroke.
Brainstem Stroke Symptoms
Brainstem stroke symptoms may include difficulty with coordination and balance, difficulty speaking or swallowing, double vision, facial weakness or numbness, and reduced sensation or weakness in the arms or legs.
Mini Stroke Symptoms
Also known as transient ischemic attack (TIA) symptoms, it may include sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, difficulty speaking or understanding speech, temporary loss of vision in one or both eyes and difficulty with balance or coordination.
FAST Stroke Symptoms
Fast stroke symptoms are an acronym for the key signs of a stroke and include:
Time to call emergency services immediately
Seizures After Stroke
Seizures can occur after a stroke as a result of damage to the brain tissue. When the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, the brain cells in that area may begin to die. This can cause brain activity changes, leading to abnormal electrical signals that trigger seizures.
The risk of seizures after a stroke varies depending on the location and severity of the stroke. Individuals who have suffered from a large stroke or have a history of seizures may be at a higher risk of experiencing seizures after a stroke. Seizures may occur immediately after a stroke or develop in the days or weeks following the stroke.
Treatment for seizures after a stroke typically involves anti-seizure medications, which can help prevent further seizures and protect the brain from additional damage. Surgery may sometimes be recommended to remove the damaged brain tissue causing the seizures. Working closely with a healthcare provider is important to develop an appropriate treatment plan that addresses any seizures or other complications after a stroke. If you want to learn more about seizures after strokes, follow this link.
How Is A Stroke Treated?
The treatment for a stroke depends on the type of stroke and how severe it is. Treatment aims to minimise brain damage, prevent further complications, and help the person recover as much functionally as possible. Here are some of the common treatments for a stroke:
If a blood clot causes the stroke, clot-busting medication, such as tissue plasminogen activator (TPA), may be given to dissolve the clot and restore blood flow to the brain. This medication must be given within a few hours of the onset of symptoms, so it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.
In some cases, a procedure known as thrombectomy may be performed to remove the blood clot that caused the stroke. This involves inserting a catheter into an artery in the leg and threading it to the brain to remove the clot.
In certain situations, surgery may be needed to repair the blood vessels in the brain or remove a clot that cannot be treated with medication or a thrombectomy.
After a stroke, rehabilitation is an important part of recovery. This may include physical, occupational, and speech therapy to help the person regain strength, coordination, and speech abilities.
Other medications may be prescribed to help manage the person’s blood pressure, prevent blood clots, or treat other medical conditions that increase the risk of stroke.
What Are The Top 7 Ways To Prevent A Stroke?
Here are the top 7 ways to prevent a stroke:
- Manage high blood pressure: High blood pressure is the most significant risk factor for stroke. It’s important to monitor blood pressure regularly and take steps to keep it within a healthy range.
- Stop smoking: Smoking increases the risk of stroke by damaging blood vessels and causing plaque buildup.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of stroke, so eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly is important.
- Regular exercise can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of diabetes, and promote overall heart health.
- Manage diabetes: People with diabetes are at an increased risk of stroke, so it’s important to manage blood sugar levels through a healthy diet, exercise, and medications as needed.
- Limit alcohol intake: Drinking too much alcohol can increase blood pressure and the risk of stroke. It’s recommended to limit alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
- Treat atrial fibrillation: Atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat, can increase the risk of stroke. Treating this condition with medication or procedures can help reduce the risk of stroke.
By following these steps and working closely with a healthcare provider, individuals can help reduce their risk of stroke and promote overall health and well-being.
You can contact The Stroke Line to speak to a team member to find out what services and support are available to you or your family member. Stroke Line is available Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm, Eastern Standard Time (closed on Australian national public holidays).
An ischemic stroke is the most prevalent type of stroke. An ischemic stroke occurs when a clot obstructs blood flow to a specific brain region, resulting in cerebral venous thrombosis or cerebral embolism. The likelihood of developing seizures is higher for those with an ischemic stroke in their cerebral cortex and hippocampus.
Conversely, a haemorrhagic stroke happens when blood vessels in the brain rupture, causing blood to accumulate in the surrounding brain tissue and putting pressure on the brain, leading to oxygen and blood supply deprivation. The American Stroke Association estimates that approximately 13% of all strokes are haemorrhagic.
It is crucial to call 000 immediately if you or someone else displays signs of a stroke, regardless of how long the symptoms last. Early treatment can help minimise brain damage and improve the chances of a full recovery.
A first aid course can benefit strokes by teaching individuals how to recognise the signs and symptoms of a stroke and take appropriate action to seek medical help. Early recognition and treatment are critical in reducing the risk of long-term disability or death from a stroke. Learn the necessary skills and techniques to help save lives and reduce the severity of stroke complications here or read through our articles about other medical conditions, such as Allergies, by following this link.