Stroke is an English word that means the act of striking. It is a sudden action or process producing an impact, which is how stroke, the medical condition appears. You do not see it coming, many people are affected by stroke. Globally 1 in 4 adults over the age of 25 will have a stroke in their lifetime. 13.7 million people worldwide will have their first stroke this year and five and a half million will die as a result. Fortunately, 80% of all strokes are preventable. In this article, we will educate and inform you to do as much as you can to prevent stroke.
Stroke is a medical condition that happens when there is a blockage of blood supply to your brain. The brain is the organ responsible for controlling every part of your body even breathing. It can achieve this aim because it has different regions which control different activities or functions of your body.
To control and coordinate these functions, the brain needs to be fed with oxygen and nutrient that is present in the blood. Thus, the heart makes sure there is an adequate supply of blood containing oxygen and nutrients to the brain. The blood is transported through channels called blood vessels: arteries and veins. Arteries transport oxygen and nutrients to the brain. The brain exchanges them with blood containing waste and carbon dioxide to be transported via veins.
A stroke happens when the arteries that transport oxygen and nutrients are blocked by a clot or bursts. When this happens, part of the brain cannot get blood containing oxygen and nutrients. This will lead to starving and that part of the brain will eventually die because it cannot function. Because every part of the brain is important, if a part of it dies, then a person will experience symptoms based on the function of that region. For instance, if the part responsible for speech is affected, then an individual will have slurred speech and might eventually lose that function. If the part is responsible for movement, then the individual will become paralysed depending on the type of movement that region of the brain-controlled.
Symptoms of stroke
· Speech: a person suffering from stroke may have trouble speaking or find it difficult to understand what others are saying. They might act confused and even slur their words.
· Paralysis: a person having a stroke may have difficulty in moving parts of the body. He/she may experience numbness in the face, arm or leg. Mostly, this affects only one side of the body. If you suspect that a person might have a stroke, ask them to raise both their arms at the same time above the head. If one arm begins to fall, you would have to contact a doctor. This can be done with the legs. Also, if one side of the mouth begins to droop when they smile, then you may be having a stroke.
· Vision changes: a person suffering from a stroke might suddenly have problems seeing in either one or both eyes. The person might see but the images may be blurred or double.
· Headache: a person suffering from stroke will suddenly experience a severe sudden headache with unknown causes and might be accompanied by vomiting or dizziness.
· Movement(loss of balance): a person who has a stroke will suddenly have trouble walking. The person might lose his balance and stumble.
It is important to note that, these symptoms may be shared with other ailments, however, stroke symptoms appear suddenly like a blow as the name suggests. Some will not notice these symptoms immediately. However, if you suspect a little inch of stroke, always be FAST about it.
· F- Face. Is the face drooping on one side when smile?
· A- Arms. Is there a weakness in the arms? Can they lift both arms without dropping one?
· S- Speech. Ask the person to repeat a phrase. Did they repeat it well or they slurred the words?
· T- Time. If you observe any of these signs, call for help or an ambulance to transfer the person to the hospital.
For every minute that you spend waiting, the cells are being deprived of oxygen and the brain cells are literally having a brain attack. Early diagnosis will prevent further brain complications and even death.
Causes of stroke
A stroke occurs by 2 main means: a blocked artery (Ischemic stroke) and a burst artery (haemorrhagic stroke). Some people will experience a stroke briefly but will disappear after some minutes to hours known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA).
1. Ischaemic stroke
This is the most common type of stroke occurring in about 85% of all cases. It occurs when the blood vessels(arteries) transporting blood that contains oxygen and nutrient is blocked or become narrowed. This happens when there is a buildup of fats thereby restricting the blood flow. It can also occur when there is a clot formed in the vessels which blocks the transports of blood to the brain regions. The clot may be formed from other parts of the body – heart, arteries in the neck and travel to the brain to cause a stroke. This is particularly among people with heart diseases.
2. Haemorrhagic stroke
This is also known as the bleeding stroke because it occurs when the blood vessels burst and bleed. This causes blood to leak all around the brain resulting in swelling.
3. Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
This is called a ministroke because the symptoms disappear after some minutes or hours. Nevertheless, it is important to see a doctor as this may serve as a warning sign for a full serious stroke.
As mentioned earlier, stroke is very preventable. Some behaviours that will increase a person’s chance of stroke include:
1. Unhealthy diet: Food high in salts, cholesterol, trans fats.
2. Lack of exercise.
3. Alcohol consumption.
4. Use of tobacco or smoking.
Ø Personal background
1. Family history- people who have relatives with stroke are more likely to get it due to similarities in inherited genes.
2. Gender- women are more likely to get stroke than men.
3. Age- the older you get; there more likely you can get a stroke.
Ø Health conditions
1. People who have had a ministroke- transient ischemic attack (TIA).
2. High blood pressure(hypertension)
4. High cholesterol
5. Heart disorders
6. Sickle-cell diseases.
Having these conditions or factors does not mean you will definitely get a stroke. It is just to tell you to be more careful.
Prevention of stroke
85% of all strokes are preventable usually through lifestyle changes.
1. Lowering your blood pressure.
2. Lowering your intake of fatty foods.
3. Managing your health conditions,e.g diabetes.
4. Quit smoking.
5. Reducing the intake of alcohol.
6. Exercising regularly.
7. Eating diets that contain fruits and vegetables. They help your immune system fight infection.
8. Managing your weight (obesity can cause a stroke).
Treatment of stroke
Treatment is based on the type of stroke present. Treatment includes:
1. Stroke medications
3. Therapies( speech therapy, physiotherapy, etc)
1. World Stroke Organization. Why stroke matters. Retrieved from https://www.world-stroke.org/world-stroke-day-campaign/why-stroke-matters/learn-about-stroke
2. American Stroke Association. About stroke. Available at https://www.stroke.org/en/about-stroke
3. Healthline. Everything you need to know about stroke. Available at https://www.healthline.com/health/stroke#embolic-stroke
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