Is It a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when not enough blood reaches the brain. Without blood and oxygen, brain cells die and they do not regenerate. An ischemic stroke, the most common, is due to a blood clot in an artery leading to the brain. Like a heart attack, an ischemic stroke often results from atherosclerosis - this time in the arteries that lead to the brain. Eventually, this buildup of plaque can rupture, causing blood clots to form around the plaque and blockage of blood flowing to the brain.
Types of Strokes
A hemorrhagic stroke, on the other hand, is when blood vessels in the brain break and bleeding occurs in the brain or on the surface of the brain.
Ischemic strokes are treated by restoring blood flow to the brain. Medications to prevent blood clots from forming, medications that thin the blood, and procedures such as angioplasty and carotid endarterectomy may be used in the treatment of stroke.
Stroke Treatments & Prevention
Depending on the amount bleeding that has occurred into the brain, hemorrhagic stroke may be treated by reducing the bleeding. Procedures include using clamps to prevent bleeding or bursting of the vessel, strengthening an aneurysm, or removal of problematic blood vessels.
To reduce your risk of stroke, it's important to control high blood pressure, control diabetes, maintain healthy cholesterol levels, stop smoking, and maintain a healthy weight.
The symptoms of a stroke include blurred vision, a crushing headache, numbness in the face, having trouble speaking and an inability to follow what people say.
A warning sign that a stroke may occur in the future is the presence of transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). These are also called mini-strokes. TIAs are caused when blood flow to the brain is temporarily reduced. Brain damage does not occur, but having a TIA greatly increases the chances that you will have a stroke later. Symptoms of TIAs are similar to the symptoms of stroke, but last for a short period of time, usually less than five minutes.