A stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is reduced or stopped altogether. This can happen while blocking:
- An artery that delivers oxygen to the brain. This is called an ischemic stroke, and is the stroke’s most common form.
- A blood flow that breaks in the brain. This is considered a hemorrhagic stroke.
As a result, the brain does not obtain enough oxygen or nutrients and cells in the brain begin to die off. Many people die as a result of a stroke, many make a full recovery, and others are left with permanent damage, affecting their voice, strength, eyesight or limbs. For the most part, strokes are preventable.
Signs and Symptoms
You may have a “mini-stroke” in the days leading up to it, before you have a stroke. Usually those are caused by a temporary blood clot. The symptoms are the same as a stroke, except that they last only a short time, varying from a few minutes to hours. Mini-strokes don’t actually cause brain damage.
Not everyone who has a mini-stroke will get a stroke, but many will, and it’s a sign that blood supply to your brain could be a concern.
You can feel all or some of these symptoms when you’re having a stroke (or mini-stroke):
- Sudden numbness in the face, arm, or leg, usually only on one side of the body.
- Confusion, trouble communicating or knowing what is said.
- Vision disorder or blurred vision.
- Walking disorder, loss of balance and coordination.
- Having high blood pressure is the most significant cause of strokes.
- People who smoke, are overweight or do not exercise most likely face stroke.
- The risk of strokes can be inherited, too. If someone has had a stroke in your family, then the chances are rising.
- 75% of strokes occur in patients over 65.
- Men have higher chances of having stroke than women.
You could be at risk if you have high blood pressure or someone in your family has had a stroke. Talk about it to your doctor.
When you believe you have had a mini-stroke, go to the doctor. The health care provider should inquire about your symptoms, family history and lifestyle. They will listen to your heart, measure your blood pressure, and send you to check your cholesterol levels for a blood test. You may be sent for an ultrasound or CT scan to look for a blockage or brain damage. Your doctor may also schedule an ECG to track your heart rhythm, and an x-ray of your chest to check your heart and blood flow.
You may need a variety of medications depending on the cause and severity of your stroke and the resulting conditions:
- Drugs to thin your blood or blood clots
- Changes in lifestyle needed to keep the blood pressure under control. Supplements for men and proper diet is also advised.
- Surgery to reopen the arteries affected. A stent may be implanted to keep open the artery and increase blood flow.
- Rehabilitation with a health care provider to help recover voice, balance and mobility.