Stroke has been described as the second leading cause of death in the world by WHO. You have probably also heard facts about stroke, or stories of people dying from stroke, or even seen one of your family members developing stroke symptoms, which they were then rushed to the emergency department. Well, it is no harm to read more facts about strokes in order to understand more thoroughly, for you might someday encounter people (or even yourself) who have stroke symptoms but never realize it until it’s too late!
This is how stroke happens in an individual:
Cerebral infarction is mostly caused by the blockage of the vessels by the deposition of plaques of fatty material on their inner walls. The plaques could originate from other parts of the body and be carried to the brain, a term known as thromboembolism. Depends on the vessels affected, the symptoms of stroke differ.
However, the body is a genius when it comes to autoregulation when something wrong is sensed. The nearby vessels of the blocked vessel may restore perfusion of the brain, and the compensatory homeostatic changes may occur to maintain tissue oxygenation and prevent permanent damaged to the affected part. Transient ischemic attack (TIA) describes the condition when the symptoms resolve within 24 hours of lack of oxygenation, yet no damage has occurred.
It is another type of stroke where there is bleeding into the structure of the brain and thus compressing the vessels which usually supply oxygen to the brain. The explosive entry of blood into the brain causes immediate cessation of function in that area as the neurons are structurally disrupted. This could be due to trauma, rupture of aneurysms or atriovenous malfunctions.
You were wrong to think only the elderly are at risk!
Though it is true that the more you age, the higher the risk of you getting a stroke. However, do not underestimate the evil power of stroke for it could even cause death among teenagers and children. Have you heard of pediatric stroke?
Below are the risk factors for developing stroke:
- Age (>65years)
- Family history of stroke
- High cholesterol
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Congenital heart disease
- Previous history of heart attack
- Oral contraceptive pills/ hormone replacement therapy
- Impaired blood clotting disorders
- Substance abuse (cocaine)
What does stroke look like?
The clinical presentation of stroke depends on which arterial territory is involved and the size of the lesion. The 6 primary stroke symptoms are:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
- Sudden confusion or trouble understanding.
- Sudden trouble speaking.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
Each year, stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer. Yet, only 1 in 4 women can name more than two of the six primary stroke symptoms, according to the National Stroke Association. Approximately 425,000 women suffer from stroke each year, and the symptoms which are unique to women are:
- Sudden shortness of breath.
- Sudden chest pain.
- Sudden heart palpitations.
- Sudden hiccups.
- Sudden face and limb pain.
- Sudden general weakness.
Myth or fact?
Myth: Strokes cannot be prevented.
Fact: About 90% of strokes are linked to modifiable risk factors like hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.
Myth: Stroke is a kind of heart attack.
Fact: Stroke and heart disease are related, but not the same thing.
Myth: It’s hard to tell if someone is having a stroke.
Fact: People outside of the medical field can recognize stroke symptoms.
Myth: A stroke cannot be treated.
Fact: Treatment within a few hours of onset can prevent or even reverse the damage from stroke.
Don’t smoke, drink less, exercise more.
Taking time to learn the signs of stroke might save someone’s life, maybe even your own.
Go Red For Women
by Angie Loh
A medical student with nothing but passion and a pen. Poems and novels never fail to make me feel alive. I'm inspired to make the world a better place and fill it with a little bit more love. But first, where's my coffee? View all articles by Angie Loh.