What is brain stroke?
Brain stroke is a medical emergency condition wherein the blood supply/flow to the brain is disrupted due to various reasons. As the blood supply drops, the brain cells in the corresponding areas with low or nearly no blood supply start to die resulting in loss of functionality of body parts, speech problems, paralysis and sometimes death.
What are the different types of strokes?
Brain strokes are divided into mainly three types:
- Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
- Ischemic Stroke
- Hemorrhagic Stroke
Transient Ischemic Attack
When the blood clots in any blood vessel in the brain, the corresponding area of the brain receives very low or no blood at all. This should be taken as a warning sign or mini-stroke and the person should see a good neurologist or vascular surgeon/specialist immediately. Usually the blood clot is temporary and the symptoms associated with it don’t last long.
Ischemic stroke is also a condition of low blood flow to specific parts of the brain due to the formation blood clots. The clot is usually formed due to the building up of fat deposits alongside the walls of blood vessels. (Building up of fat deposits along the walls of blood vessels is medically termed as ‘atherosclerosis’). An ischemic stroke can be ‘embolic’ meaning; the clot can travel from brain to other parts of the body.
Thrombotic stroke is one type of ischemic stroke that is caused due to the blood clot in the blood vessels in the brain. This doesn’t go away on it’s own unlike transient ischemic stroke and must be treated.
In the case of hemorrhagic stroke, the disruption in blood flow to the brain is due to the rupturing of blood vessels. The blood then spills into the surrounding tissues of the brain. Hemorrhagic stroke is further classified into three types:
- Aneurysm – The case when the blood vessels balloons and may rupture.
- Arteriovenous Malformation – The case of abnormally formed blood vessels.
- High blood pressure can cause rupture of small blood vessels spilling blood into the surrounding brain tissues.
Brain stroke symptoms
Irrespective of the type of stroke, ultimately the effect is disruption of blood supply to certain parts of the brain. Symptoms of such low/no blood flow to brain areas include:
- Drooping of face on one side. This is seen when the person smiles, one portion wouldn’t move while other part moves making a twist.
- Inability to hold up both the arms. One arm drifts down. (When the clot is on the right side of the brain, issue lies with the left parts of the body and vice versa).
- Problem talking, thinking and forming proper sentences.
- Inability to understand what other person is saying
- Inability to walk properly.
- Sudden headaches
- Vision problem in one or both eyes.
Symptoms caused by Transient Ischemic Attack may last only for few minutes. Ignoring even the minor symptoms may be dangerous.
Brain stroke treatment
Brain stroke treatment varies depending on the type of broke.
Treatment for Transient Ischemic Attack
TIA is treated with anti-platelets and anticoagulants medications. Anti-platelets stop the blood clotting when the platelets come together and anticoagulants stop the formation of blood clotting due to the build up of proteins. In most cases, TIA is caused due to the plaque build up in the carotid artery (that is present in the either side of the neck), in such cases, the plaque is removed with a surgery called ‘Carotid Endarterectomy’.
Ischemic Stroke treatment
Doctors will be able to remove the clot physically or deliver clot-busting medication to the brain. In some cases, a ‘plasminogen activator’ medicine is delivered through IV to dissolve the clot. Administration of plasminogen activator depends on the person’s medical history and health condition.
Hemorrhagic stroke treatment
Treatment for hemorrhagic stroke involves methods to stop bleeding into the brain. Side effects of the treatment may include ‘intracranial pressure’. Medication will be given to reduce the intracranial pressure. Surgical treatment options for hemorrhagic stroke include clipping or coiling of the ruptured blood vessel.
How to reduce the risk of brain stroke or prevent recurrence?
- Increase in physical activity. Brisk walking for 30 mins a day does a lot of benefit in controlling diabetes and blood pressure.
- A healthy diet including lot of vegetables and fruits.
- Avoid smoking and reduce alcohol consumption.
- Figuring out ways to relieve stress such as yoga, medication can help.