Stroke: Warning Signs, Treatment, And Prevention

July 02, 2021

Stroke: Warning Signs, Treatment, And Prevention

A stroke is classified as a medical emergency. There are two main types of stroke. Firstly, an ischaemic stroke happens when a blood clot obstructs blood flow to the brain. Secondly, a hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel ruptures, hindering blood flow to the brain. [1


A mini-stroke is also termed a transient ischaemic attack (TIA). It only lasts for a few minutes. Additionally, it shows symptoms resembling a stroke, but these symptoms last for a shorter duration. [2


In a stroke, the blood supply to part of your brain is hindered or lowered, and this prevents your brain tissues from obtaining oxygen and nutrients. As a result, your brain cells start to die in a matter of minutes. [3


In the United States, someone gets a stroke every 40 seconds, and one person dies from a stroke every 4 minutes. [4] The most crucial thing is to get medical assistance as soon as possible, as this can minimize the damage to the brain and reduce the risk of other complications. 


Warning Signs Of A Stroke


Recognizing the warning signs of a stroke can save a life. Because every minute counts, knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke can be the difference between life and death. The following are some signs of a stroke:- 


  • Slurred words and difficulty speaking or understanding what someone else is saying.
  • Having difficulty seeing in one eye or both eyes
  • Weakness, numbness, or paralysis of the face, arm, or leg, particularly on one side of the body
  • A sudden and severe headache with no apparent cause 
  • Dizziness, change in consciousness or vomiting 
  • Trouble walking due to difficulty in balancing or lack of coordination [3,5]

The most crucial thing is to think “F-A-S-T” if you notice any worrying signs. 


  • F-Face: Tell the person to smile. Drooping on one side of the face is a warning sign of stroke. 
  • A-Arms: Tell the person to raise both arms. If you notice that the person cannot raise one arm or he has drifting downwards, these are warning signs of a stroke. 
  • S-Speech: Tell the person to repeat a simple phrase. If his speech is slurred or strange, this is another warning sign of a stroke. 
  • T-Time: You should not wait for the symptoms to worsen or improve. Even if you are unsure if it is a stroke, call your emergency medical service provider immediately. [3,5]


Accompany the person until medical help arrives. Note down the time these symptoms started as this will help the treating healthcare team choose the best treatment option. [5]


Even though you may have the best intentions, it is best not to drive the person or let someone else drive the person to the hospital. Instead, call 9-1-1 as this will allow the emergency medical service team to begin life-saving treatment even on the way to the hospital. [5]


Treatment For Stroke


Upon reaching the hospital, your healthcare professional will ask you a series of questions, including when the symptoms started. Additionally, your doctor will use a brain scan to figure out the type of stroke. The treatment chosen will differ based on the type of stroke and the time of onset of symptoms. 


Ischaemic strokes can be treated with a type of medication known as a thrombolytic. This medication will dissolve the blood clot that is obstructing blood flow. As a result, blood flow to the brain can be restored. [6,7


However, this medication is generally not recommended for use if more than 4.5 hours have passed since the onset of symptoms. Furthermore, this medication is only suitable for an ischaemic stroke and not a hemorrhagic stroke, as it can worsen bleeding. [6]


Studies have shown that patients who have an ischaemic stroke and received a thrombolytic medication to break up the blood clot have a better chance at recovery and a lesser risk of disability. Unfortunately, some patients do not arrive at the hospital in time for treatment with this medication. Hence, seeking medical attention as soon as possible is crucial for any stroke victim. [7


If you get a hemorrhagic stroke, the treatment will differ from that of an ischemic stroke. Patients with high blood pressure will be given medications to lower their blood pressure and prevent complications. Other than that, if you are on any anticoagulants, you may be given a drug to reverse the anticoagulant effect and lessen the risk of more bleeding. [6]


In some cases of a stroke, a patient may need to undergo specific procedures or surgery to reduce the chances of complications. [6]


Stroke Prevention 


If you have had a stroke before, you are at a high risk of getting another one. [8] In addition to that, the following factors may put you at a higher risk of getting stroke:-

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol 
  • Obesity 
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Lack of physical activity [9

From these risk factors, you can gauge that taking care of your heart and health will significantly reduce your risk of getting a stroke. 


Here are some preventative measures and lifestyle modifications you can incorporate into your daily life to lessen your chances of getting a stroke:-


  • Eat healthily.Try to incorporate foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium into your daily meals. Additionally, maintaining an adequate intake of fiber can boost your health. 

  • Exercise often.Regular exercise can help with lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and maintaining cardiovascular health. If you are in the process of recovering from a stroke, discuss with your treating physician how you can start returning to physical activity while minimizing the risk of injury. 

  • Avoid tobacco.Smoking can increase your risk of numerous diseases and cancers. If you wish to stop smoking, consult a healthcare professional to seek guidance and advice on how you can kick the habit. 

  • Limit alcohol intake.Excessive alcohol consumption can heighten your risk of cardiovascular diseases and strokes. Heavy drinking and increase the chances of you getting a stroke by up to three times. 

  • Maintain a healthy weight.You may wish to seek your healthcare provider’s help in calculating your body mass index (BMI). Besides that, you may also use online calculators to help determine your BMI. By doing this, you can find out if you are in the healthy weight range. 

  • Manage medical conditions.Your doctor may have prescribed medications to control other diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, or atrial fibrillation. After a stroke, your physician may have also prescribed some medicines to prevent a recurrence in the future. It is crucial to take these medications according to your doctor’s instructions, even if you feel well. [10,11]

Conclusion


While a stroke can lead to many complications and even death, it is a condition that can be treated and prevented. The most crucial thing to do is act F.A.S.T. when you notice any warning signs of a stroke. 

This article is a guide. It does not substitute any advice given by your healthcare provider.



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