What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs because blood flow to part of the brain is interrupted, either by a clot or a bleed within the brain. A small part of the brain then dies because of this lack of blood flow.
There are three types of strokes which can occur:
- Ischemic Stroke: Ischemic stroke occurs when an artery to the brain is blocked. The brain depends on its arteries to bring fresh blood from the heart and lungs. These blockages are caused by: a problem with the blood vessels, a problem with the blood itself or by clots from the heart. If the artery remains blocked for more than a few minutes, the brain cells may die. This is why immediate medical treatment is absolutely critical. About 80% of strokes are Ischemic Strokes.
- Hemorrhagic Stroke: Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a diseased blood vessel within the brain bursts, allowing blood to leak inside the brain. The sudden increase in pressure within the brain can cause damage to the brain cells surrounding the blood. If the amount of blood increases rapidly, the sudden pressure can lead to unconsciousness or death. The most common cause of hemorrhagic stroke is high blood pressure (hypertension). Less common causes include trauma, infections, tumors, blood clotting deficiencies, and abnormalities in blood vessels. Hemorrhage stroke occurs at all ages. The average age is lower than for ischemic stroke. Hemorrhagic strokes make up about 20% of all strokes.
- Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): A TIA is sometimes wrongly referred to as a mini-stroke. It is not a stroke but is a warning sign that someone is at risk for having a larger stroke. TIA’s do not cause permanent damage because they only cause temporary stoppage of blood flow to an area of the brain that is momentarily starved, but is not permanently damaged. Signs of a TIA are slurred speech, vision disturbances, and limb weakness that resolves soon after.
Source of information: www.strokecenter.org.
Warning Signs of Stroke
It is very important that you know the warning signs of a stroke.
Signs that you may be having a stroke are:
- SUDDEN weakness, numbness or tingling in the face, arm or leg
- SUDDEN loss of speech or trouble understanding speech
- SUDDEN loss of vision or double vision
- SUDDEN severe and unusual headache
- SUDDEN loss of balance, especially with any of the other above signs
CALL 911 if you think that you or a loved one is having a stroke.
The faster you get to the hospital, the better your outcome can be.
Common Problems After a Stroke
Depending on where the stroke happens in the brain, different problems can occur.
Some of the problems following a stroke may include:
- Speech problems making communication difficult
- Sensory changes making it difficult to feel touch, pressure and smell
- Cognitive difficulties affecting perception, thinking and planning
- Emotional changes and personality changes which can create behavior changes
- Motor problems such as swallowing difficulties or weakness on one side of the body