Stroke is a medical condition arising when the blood flow to the brain is reduced resulting in paralysis or death. It is of two kinds, one being an ischemic stroke that occurs due to a blocked artery and the other being a hemorrhagic stroke that occurs due to the bursting of a blood vessel or bleeding from a ruptured aneurysm in the brain. The person experiencing the condition may have the following stroke symptoms: numbness or weakness in face, arm or leg on one side of the body; sudden state of confusion having trouble in understanding or speech defect; problems of visibility either in one or both the eyes; difficulty in walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; severe headache in case of a hemorrhagic stroke without any likely causes etc. A stroke may be a temporary condition and does not cause much damage if blood flow to the brain gets partially restricted also known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or a mini-stroke.
Stroke symptoms can be life-threatening and can result in death or paralysis of body or speech or weakness. The effects of a stroke are permanent and can lead to long term loss of bladder control or pneumonia, loss of movement in the facial or arm muscles, emotional issues such as depression, thinking difficulties, pain in parts affected by stroke, sensitivity to changes of temperature etc. In women, the stroke may show up as weakness, breathlessness, vomiting, loss of consciousness, pain, disorientation, seizures or increased agitation.
Risk factors for stroke include increasing age, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, excessive use of tobacco, obesity, high level of cholesterol in blood, diabetes, a previous incidence of TIA and atrial fibrillation or blood sugar, use of birth control pills such as estrogen etc or drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamines etc. Men are more susceptible than women especially people above 55 years of age.
Diagnosis for stroke symptoms may involve routine check-up followed by neurological examinations such as NIHSS, imaging tests such as CT, MRI, Doppler Ultrasound or arteriography and other supporting examinations including electrocardiogram and blood tests even though CT scan may not show early warning signs of an ischemic stroke. Anti-platelet drugs and anticoagulants are the ideal solutions to dissolve the clots in the brain and prevent ischemic stroke or TIA. However, surgery may be the alternative in the worst case scenarios when the doctor may just use a catheter to remove the clot, a stent to inflate the narrowed artery, coiling, clamping or other kinds of surgery to stem bleeding from an aneurysm. Stroke is a serious condition and only timely prevention and cure can help prevent disastrous consequences.