Stroke

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Overview

Stroke is a medical crisis in which the blood supply to the brain is cut off or reduced very significantly, so much so that the brain cells become deprived of oxygen and nutrients. After a few minutes of this deprivation, the brain cells begin to die. Since this is such an emergent condition, it must be dealt with as quickly as possible.

Causes

There are two types of strokes:

  1. Ischemic stroke (more common)
  2. Hemorrhagic stroke

The causes of both the types of strokes are completely different.

An Ischemic Stroke is one in which the blood supply, and in turn, nutrients and oxygen reaching the brain are significantly reduced. This can happen when some physical barrier blocks the blood vessel, such as :

  • A thrombus (blood clot formed in the vessel that is blocked)
  • An embolus (blood or fat clot, coming from a region away from the blocked vessel)

A Hemorrhagic Stroke occurs because of excessive bleeding into the brain, which again leads to stasis of blood into that region and in turn, deprivation of fresh blood and oxygen. Hemorrhagic stroke can occur because of one of the following reasons:

Symptoms

It requires some degree of vigilance to observe the signs and symptoms in a person having this condition. These are a few of the signs and symptoms presented by a person having a stroke:

  • Trouble with speaking and understanding speech
  • Paralysis and numbness of the face, arm, or leg
  • Trouble with sight
  • Headache
  • Difficulty in walking

Diagnosis

It is very important to determine the type of stroke a patient is having, in order to decide the best treatment plan to go forward with. Diagnosis of stroke and its type can be made by the following:

  • Proper clinical examination and evaluation
  • Blood tests
  • CT scan of the brain
  • MRI of the brain
  • Carotid Ultrasound
  • Cerebral angiogram
  • Echocardiogram (to detect if the clot came from the heart)

Treatment

  • I/V injection of Tissue plasminogen activator
  • Removal of clot with a stent retriever
  • Carotid endarterectomy
  • Surgical clipping
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