What is a Stroke?

Definition

A stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to any part of the brain, due to arterial blockage or hemorrhage.

Symptoms of Stroke

Symptoms usually develop suddenly, without much advanced warning. They are usually at their most severe at the onset of a stroke, but in some instances, symptoms may slowly grow worse.

Depending on severity and the part of the brain that is affected, symptoms of stroke may include:

  • A severe headache which starts suddenly, possibly waking you from sleep, and is worse when straining, such as bending or coughing.
  • One side of the body experiences weakness in the face, arm, or leg, often accompanied by numbness or tingling
  • Difficulty writing or reading
  • Speech comprehension and speaking are difficult
  • diminished or double vision, sometimes a total loss of vision
  • Sudden change in alertness, such as sleepiness, unconsciousness, or coma
  • Uncharacteristic personality or mood changes
  • Confusion, memory loss
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Changes in taste or other physical sensations
  • Loss of coordination or clumsiness, difficulty walking
  • Vertigo, dizziness, or loss of balance
  • Lapse in bladder or bowel control

Initial Treatment of Stroke

At the first signs of a stroke, it is critical to act quickly to obtain medical care. Call 911 immediate, and describe symptoms to all medical personnel you encounter. Timing is everything, and starting treatment in the first 3 hours after a stroke begins can save a life, and drastically affect the long-term outcome of the stroke patient.

Depending on the cause and severity of the stroke, the following treatment options may be necessary:

  • Hospital critical care
  • Clot-busting drugs are often used if the stroke is caused by a blood clot. However, there are many factors that determine if a particular person is a candidate for these powerful drugs, including the time that has passed from the initial onset of the stroke symptoms.
  • Blood thinners are sometimes used to treat strokes due to blood clots.
  • High blood pressure medication may be administered to help reduce possible complications or continued threat of brain hemorrhage.
  • Surgery can remove blood from around the brain and to repair damaged blood vessels in a stroke caused by hemorrhage.

Long-Term Treatment of Stroke

A Neurologist is often called upon to make assessments about a stroke patient’s brain activity and ability to recover all or part of the functions controlled by the damaged part of the brain.

As part of the recovery process, physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy are going to factor heavily in the treatment plan.

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