Brainstem Strokes

Brainstem strokes pain

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

A stroke is defined as an interruption of blood supply to the brain. The brain stem controls some of the most critical functions in the body such as blood pressure,speech, swallowing, and movement of eyes. Studies reveal that 1 out of every 10 ischemic strokes occur in the brain stem. In the USA alone, the number of people likely to suffer from stroke is roughly 7 million. A stroke is defined as an interruption of blood supply to the brain. The brain stem controls some of the most critical functions in the body such as blood pressure,speech, swallowing, and movement of eyes. Studies reveal that 1 out of every 10 ischemic strokes occur in the brain stem. In the USA alone, the number of people likely to suffer from stroke is roughly 7 million.
Stroke is one of the leading causes of death. As per statistics, every year 6.2 million deaths across the globe can be attributed to stroke. This comes down to 1 stroke-related death every 10 seconds. During a stroke, millions of brain cells die every second. If timely medical attention is not provided, brain stem stroke can be highly fatal.
If you see someone around you showing the classic signs of brain stem stroke, you should immediately call for emergency medical help. The main symptoms to look out for are slurred speech, dizziness, double vision, difficulty in breathing and swallowing, and loss of balance. In the case of ischemia, the treatment focuses on removing the blood clot that is causing obstruction to blood flow. Hemorrhagic strokes are treated by controlling internal bleeding and reducing the pressure created in the brain.
Since millions of brain cells die at an alarmingly high rate during a stroke, such an event can leave a person severely disabled. A brain stem stroke can result in life-long complications such as loss of speech, balance, and motor skills. Both medication and rehabilitation methods are required to help a stroke patient gain control over bodily functions. In some cases, psychological counselling might be effective in helping the stroke patient cope with the aftermath of the event.

Overview

The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. Different areas of the brain are responsible for controlling different faculties and processing different kinds of input. One of the most important centers for nervous control and coordination in the brain is a region known as the brainstem. The brainstem is one of the earliest parts of the central nervous system to develop during the fetal stage. Hence, it is responsible for controlling some of the most fundamental functions, particularly involuntary functions such as breathing, heartbeat, and digestion.

The brainstem also controls activities such as speech, hearing, coordination of movement, eye movement, and response to stimuli. Hence, any form of injury or damage to this highly sensitive and crucial portion of the central nervous system can produce serious impairment of function. It can be life-threatening.

 

What Is A Brainstem Stroke?

A stroke is a condition wherein blood supply to a certain part of the brain is cut off or significantly reduced. As a result, that section of nervous tissue is starved of the oxygen that it needs to continue functioning. Hence, the physiological functions governed by that part of the brain will suffer.

This can happen when a blood clot becomes tightly lodged within an artery supplying oxygen-rich blood to the brain. Such an obstruction restricts the normal flow of blood through the artery, resulting in a stroke. Alternatively, an artery serving the brain could become ruptured or damaged and the blood it carries may not make it to its intended destination. Strokes can be fatal. Otherwise, they can leave patients with long-term brain damage or even paralysis. Brainstem strokes are particularly dreaded because this section of the brain is responsible for some of the most fundamental bodily functions.

 

What Causes A Brainstem Stroke?

As discussed above in brief, there can be two major mechanisms leading to a stroke. Hence, there can be two types of strokes. These are the ischemic and hemorrhagic types. An ischemic stroke is one in which a physical obstruction such as a blood clot plugs an artery serving a certain part of the brain, effectively blocking off blood flow to that section of brain tissue. A majority of strokes are ischemic in nature. On the other hand, a hemorrhagic stroke occurs when an artery supplying a certain part of the brain ruptures or hemorrhages. A brainstem stroke can be of either kind.

Ischemic strokes are often caused by cardiovascular disease such as atherosclerosis. This involves the buildup of a hardened plaque within the lumen of the artery, gradually making it narrower and narrower. This may be the cause for the formation of a blood clot at the site, blocking off blood supply even further. Alternatively, a clot formed in another part of the body may be rapidly swept into an artery serving the brain where it can become tightly lodged, obstructing the normal flow of blood and leading to a stroke.

A hemorrhagic stroke is less common and is more likely to be caused by trauma. Traumatic force could lead to arterial dissection or rupture of the arterial wall, allowing blood to pour out of the breached artery. This can happen when the arterial walls are already weakened, as in the case of a condition such as an aneurysm. Alternatively, the arterial wall may be subjected to unusually high levels of stress from the inside which could be due to untreated hypertension or high blood pressure.

The list below provides more details on the many potential risk factors for a brainstem stroke:

  • Having a family history of cardiovascular disease, particularly hypertension, atherosclerosis, stroke or transient ischemic attacks (also known as mini-strokes).
  • Past history of transient ischemic attacks.
  • The risk increases with advancing age.
  • Men are more likely to suffer from brainstem strokes than women.
  • Certain ethnic groups, such as African-Americans and Hispanics are more susceptible than others.
  • This includes passive smoking.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Sedentary lifestyle.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Diabetes.
  • Metabolic syndrome.
  • Blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia or polycythemia vera.
  • Cardiovascular disease such as atherosclerosis, peripheral artery disease or hypertension.
  • High intake of cholesterol.
  • Atrial fibrillation.
  • Mitral stenosis.
  • Arteriovenous malformation.
  • Autoimmune disorder.
  • Use of oral contraceptives.
  • Hormone replacement therapy.
  • Being pregnant.
  • Menopause.
  • Being obese or overweight.
  • Cancer.

 

How Do I Identify A Case Of Brainstem Stroke?

The symptoms of a stroke depend on which area of the brain has been affected and to what extent. Generally, a stroke gives rise to symptoms such as slurring of speech, double vision or dizziness. In the case of a brainstem stroke, there can be a wide variety of symptoms since this section of the brain performs diverse roles. These symptoms also tend to be more severe in nature than those seen in other types of strokes.  Here are some indications to expect:

  • Dizziness.
  • Double vision.
  • Nausea.
  • Vertigo.
  • Numbness.
  • Inability to speak normally.
  • Loss of hearing.
  • Loss of taste or smell or both.
  • Difficulty with breathing.
  • Difficulty with swallowing.
  • Loss of balance.
  • Loss of coordination.
  • Weakness in the limbs.

 

What Are Some Serious Complications Of Brainstem Stroke?

Patients may suffer from symptoms of psychosis, such as delusions or hallucinations. The patient may even become paralyzed. He or she could go into a coma or die. Another possible complication is ‘locked-in syndrome’.

This is a severe condition in which the person loses control of all voluntary movement except for that in the eyes. Hence, he or she is unable to communicate through gestures or speech, being restricted only to blinking or eye movements for communication.

 

Diagnosis, Treatment, & Prevention

A brainstem stroke should be treated as a medical emergency. Early diagnosis is associated with a better outlook for survival and recovery of the patient. Imaging tests are crucial in conclusively identifying the condition. Here are some procedures that can aid in making the diagnosis:

  • Physical examination.
  • Medical history.
  • Blood tests.
  • Ultrasound.
  • Computerised tomography (CT) scans.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests.
  • Electrocardiogram.

The treatment mainly depends on the cause of the stroke.

Ischemic Brain Stem Strokes

These strokes are usually caused by blood clots or torn vessels.

Drugs such as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) are administered in case the brain stem stroke results from a blood clot. These help in dissolving the blood clots and re-establishing the flow of blood. These medicines are administered through the intravenous route. The medicine should be given within 3 hours of the occurrence of the stroke in order for the treatment to be effective.

  • A catheter can be used to remove the clots. This procedure is known as embolectomy.
  • Medications are prescribed for conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, irregular heartbeats etc.
  • Carotid endarterectomy is a surgical procedure that can help to remove the fat deposits from the arteries.
  • Procedures such as angioplasty and stenting can be performed for the widening of the artery.

Hemorrhagic Brain Stem Strokes

These strokes result from ruptured blood vessels. The primary aim of the treatment is to arrest the internal bleeding. Medications (blood thinners) can be prescribed to prevent blood clot formation. Blood pressure is also controlled by means of certain drugs. Certain medications are prescribed to alleviate the effects of bleeding in the brain stem.

In case of aneurysms, surgical intervention might be required to arrest the bleeding by placing a coil or a clip.

Prevention of brain stem strokes is mainly by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Management of weight, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure levels is advised. Stress levels should be checked in order to prevent the sudden shooting up of blood pressure.

Facts

  • Vertigo and dizziness are the two most common symptoms of a brain stem stroke.
  • Approximately 1% of stroke patients can suffer from psychosis in the form of hallucinations or delusions.
  • Brain stem stroke can result in a serious complication known as locked-in syndrome. It is a condition in which the entire body gets paralyzed, except for the eye muscles.

Facts

  • Stroke is the 5th most common cause of death in the United States. It is responsible for the deaths of around 130,000 people a year.
  • In the United States, someone dies of a stroke every four minutes.
  • Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke.

Facts

  • Approximately 800,000 individuals in the United States have a stroke every year; every 3 out of four affected individuals get it for the first time.

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A stroke is defined as an interruption of blood supply to the brain. The brain stem controls some of the most critical functions in the body such as blood pressure,speech, swallowing, and movement of eyes. Studies reveal that 1 out of every 10 ischemic strokes occur in the brain stem. In the USA alone, the number of people likely to suffer from stroke is roughly 7 million. A stroke is defined as an interruption of blood supply to the brain. The brain stem controls some of the most critical functions in the body such as blood pressure,speech, swallowing, and movement of eyes. Studies reveal that 1 out of every 10 ischemic strokes occur in the brain stem. In the USA alone, the number of people likely to suffer from stroke is roughly 7 million.
Stroke is one of the leading causes of death. As per statistics, every year 6.2 million deaths across the globe can be attributed to stroke. This comes down to 1 stroke-related death every 10 seconds. During a stroke, millions of brain cells die every second. If timely medical attention is not provided, brain stem stroke can be highly fatal.
If you see someone around you showing the classic signs of brain stem stroke, you should immediately call for emergency medical help. The main symptoms to look out for are slurred speech, dizziness, double vision, difficulty in breathing and swallowing, and loss of balance. In the case of ischemia, the treatment focuses on removing the blood clot that is causing obstruction to blood flow. Hemorrhagic strokes are treated by controlling internal bleeding and reducing the pressure created in the brain.
Since millions of brain cells die at an alarmingly high rate during a stroke, such an event can leave a person severely disabled. A brain stem stroke can result in life-long complications such as loss of speech, balance, and motor skills. Both medication and rehabilitation methods are required to help a stroke patient gain control over bodily functions. In some cases, psychological counselling might be effective in helping the stroke patient cope with the aftermath of the event.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Manage your cholesterol levels and weight by intake of a balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fruits.
  • Keep an eye on your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Go for a routine health check-up.
  • Quit smoking and avoid drug abuse, which can increase the risk of aneurysms.
Don'ts
  • Delay in seeking medical attention in case you suspect a stroke. Prompt treatment is a must.
  • Be a couch potato. Make healthy lifestyle choices. Regular physical activity can go a long way in reducing the likelihood of atherosclerosis.

 

 

 

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The real reasons for your mood swings and how to overcome them Are you prone to heated moods frequently? Do you also feel bouts of depressive feeling creeping up on…
lipase test
Lipase Test A lipase test is a blood test performed to quantitatively measure the level of the enzyme lipase in…
Thyroid disorders
Thyroid Profile Thyroid profile is a panel of blood tests performed to check if an individual is suffering from any…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
L-theanine attention
L-Theanine: Better sleep, higher focus, and many other benefits Did you know that L-theanine found in green tea can make you sleep better and be focused at…
Dragon Fruit – Blessing from Nature’s Basket Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients but low on calories. It is the dream food that can help…
glutamine workout
Glutamine: Why is this the right choice for muscle-gain supplement? Glutamine can help you gain muscles and build higher immunity. Read more to find out how you can…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
Bromelain: 11 reasons why you should start adding pineapple to your pizza! If you didn't love pineapples already, here are some of the top health benefits that bromelain can bring…
Experts reveal the safest ways to perform an enema at home The idea of pushing some up your rectal area might make you queasy but an enema could actually…
Is bronchitis contagious? And how to prevent this infection? It is acute bronchitis that is contagious which means you can contract it from another person or you…
Oxalates: How healthy greens can sometimes be bad news for your kidneys Oxalates are compounds present in a majority of healthy foods. However, at times an overconsumption of these could…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
Bubble Tea: Bubbling with nutrition or a hidden sugar mine? The tapioca pearls present in the tea looks like bubbles and hence the name bubble tea became popular.…
Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) test Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) is an enzyme that is found in every cell of the body and it plays…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
Plexus Slim: Is this pink slimming drink the ultimate one-stop fat burner? How effective is Plexus Slim in helping people lose weight? What are its ingredients? Can it be safely…
11 unbelievable health benefits of thyme you didn’t know! Thyme is a herb that has been used in alternative medicine.It is a well known seasoning in the…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
DHEA wrinkles
DHEA: Now get unbelievable age defiance with this wonder hormone! DHEA is known popularly as the age-defying hormone. This supplement is widely used to slow down aging and…
Cottage cheese: What can you find in this healthy chunk of fresh milk cheese? Love cheese but scared of putting on extra pounds? With cottage cheese, you can get the best of…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
Surgery or home-remedy; what is the right way to treat a burn The treatment of a burn injury depends on its severity. You can save a life by offering the…
EEG
Electroencephalogram – EEG EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic tool used to access the functioning of neurons and brain activity to…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of hepatic enzymes which…
CEA_test
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test CEA or carcinoembryonic test detects the presence of CEA antigen in your blood mainly & determines the effectiveness…
Isagenix diet weight loss
How are BMI and BMR different and what do these numbers mean? BMI and BMR are two important metrics that provide a clear picture of your body's metabolism and also…
Hepatitis A virus infected liver
Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Total Blood test to look for IgM antibodies to know if you are infected with Hepatitis A virus (HAV),…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
Sciatica pain relief: Get rid of the pain with these easy daily tips Researchers have claimed that not only heat but icing the area too helps relieve sciatica pain. Find out…
sodium chloride
Halotherapy: How inhaling salt can work wonders for your body Halotherapy is quickly gaining popularity amongst those with respiratory diseases. It has shown promise in its treatment.
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
Vitamin-D-blood-test
25-Hydroxy Vitamin D test 25-hydroxy Vitamin D test is a blood test used to measure the level of vitamin D in the…
BoneMarrow-Biopsy
Bone Marrow Biopsy Bone marrow biopsy is a diagnostic procedure where a small amount of bone marrow is extracted from hip…
Strep throat pain
Anti-Streptolysin-O Test The ASO or Anti-Streptolysin-O is a blood test designed to check for the presence of streptococcus bacterial infection…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
free psa test
Free PSA Test The free PSA test is used to detect the level or percentage of free PSA in the body…
HSV-1_IGG
Herpes Simplex Virus I (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody & stays in the blood…
iron deficiency profile
Iron Deficiency Profile An iron deficiency profile is a battery of blood tests which are performed in order to determine the…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
piles fissure fistula
Allopathy vs homeopathy vs ayurveda treatment for piles, fissures, and fistula Read to know the best form of treatment among allopathy, homeopathy,or ayurveda for piles, fissures, and fistula
Tight phimosis ring
Phimosis Read to know everything about phimosis, types, symptoms, treatment, risks and prognosis for patients with this condition.
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…