Stroke

stroke causes

Last Updated June 13th, 2021

What is a stroke?

Cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disorders are major threats to healthy living. These conditions are more prevalent at old age.The most severe cardiovascular disorder that is affecting the lives of millions across the world is “stroke”. According to the global statistics by the World Stroke Organization, about 7,95,000 people suffer from stroke annually.

Although stroke and other cardiovascular conditions are common in all ethnic groups, the African Americans are more prone to these diseases than the white Americans or the Asians. Stroke is one of the leading causes of emergency hospitalization and 5th leading cause of death at present. Cardiovascular diseases cause around 30% of deaths.

Health organizations all over the world are working together to reduce the global morbidity and mortality rates due to stroke.

Defining a stroke

stroke causesA stroke is roughly defined as a “brain attack” that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is disrupted for a short period of time.

It occurs due to narrowing of the arteries leading to the brain.

Under acute cardiovascular conditions, the arteries leading to the brain or the blood vessels present in the brain may rupture or get obstructed due to blood clots.

The brain stops receiving oxygen in such cases and fails completely.

Three main conditions are observed in those cases- generation of a blood clot(s) within the blood vessels leading to the brain (thrombosis), transfer of the clots from the site of generation to other sites (embolism) or excessive narrowing of the arteries leading to the brain (stenosis).

Depending on the duration of the stroke, the death of a large percentage of the brain cells occurs during a stroke. Stroke is also termed as cerebrovascular disease or apoplexy.

What are the causes and risk factors for stroke?

stroke symptomsBefore discussing the causes of stroke, it must be noted that stroke does not build in a day.

Numerous physiological factors and medical conditions progressively lead to the occurrence of stroke over a period of time. The general causes of stroke are described below-

Age: Aged people, usually above the age of 65 are more prone to stroke and associated disorders. This occurs due to natural degeneration of the arterial system that disrupts the normal mechanism of blood flow to the brain. In some rare cases, strokes are also observed in new-borns especially in the perinatal stage (last phase of pregnancy) and within the first few weeks after birth.

Hypertension: This condition is characterized by elevated blood pressure that in turn increases pressure on the walls of the arteries leading to the brain. Patients suffering from high blood pressure are 2-4 times more prone to stroke than normal healthy people.

Heart diseases: Different types of heart diseases like coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, atherosclerosis and atrial fibrillation may originate due to degeneration of arterial walls and malfunctioning of the heart valves (causes reverse flow of venous blood) and heart chambers. All of the above conditions can collectively lead to stroke.

Diabetes: Patients with diabetes experience severe damages to the blood vessels in different parts of the body, including the brain. Elevation of glucose levels in the blood leads to more serious pathological conditions. These conditions can lead to stroke.

Cholesterol: People suffering from high cholesterol conditions have an excess fat deposition in the body tissues and blood vessels. These people develop atherosclerosis at some point in time. This affects the brain after a certain time and may lead to stroke and death.

Obesity: Overweight people tend to have excess fat cells and deposition of fat in the walls of the blood vessels, muscles, and arteries. This increases risks of cardiac arrest and stroke.

Gender: Men usually have higher risks of having strokes (46%) at an early age than women. Women develop strokes at a much later age. It has also been observed that strokes in women lead to more deaths than in men.

Ethnicity: African Americans and Hispanic Americans often suffer from sickle cell disease that causes arterial obstruction due to narrowing of arteries. Hence they are at higher risks of stroke than white Americans or Caucasians.

Substance abuse: Excessive cigarette smoking and alcoholism may lead to localized inflammation of arterial walls (an aneurysm) and lead to stroke due to arterial blockage.

What are the main symptoms of stroke?

Stroke is easily identified through the following symptoms-

  • Face drooping: One side of the face feels numb and may droop abnormally.
  • Muscle weakness: The person finds difficulty raising both arms at an equal level. One of the arms drops.
  • Speech problems: Speech becomes slurry during or after a stroke.
  • Loss of balance
  • Bowel and bladder incontinence
  • Problems in swallowing
  • Paralysis

What are the different types of stroke?

Strokes are categorized into two types. These are elaborated below-

  • Ischemic stroke: Ischemic stroke is the type of stroke caused due to reduced or complete lack of supply of blood to the brain. It has two subtypes-
  • Thrombotic strokes: Plaque formation within arteries to the brain cause arterial blockage. This leads to thrombotic strokes.
  • Embolic strokes: These types of strokes result from the blood clots that travel to a site away from the site of origin and block the arteries present in that region.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke: Rupture of a weak blood vessel within the brain or in the vicinity of the brain causes hemorrhagic stroke. It has two subtypes, Intracerebral hemorrhage:Here, leakage of blood from ruptured vessels occurs within the brain. Subarachnoid hemorrhage: In this case, the leaked blood spreads within the space between the two membranes surrounding the brain.

Diagnosis of stroke

Doctors usually recommend the following diagnostic techniques for strokes and associated complications-

  • CT scan and MRI scan of the brain
  • Cerebrospinal fluid analysis (through lumbar puncture)
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Angiography
  • Ultrasound
  • Blood flow studies

Treatment & Prevention

Stroke can be broadly classified into two categories – ischemic and hemorrhagic; treatment for each category is different. Ischemic stroke is treated by facilitating adequate blood supply to the brain.

This is achieved by administering drugs which prevent internal blood clots from forming.

Surgical method includes angioplasty and insertion of heart stent.

Hemorrhagic stroke is completely opposite, it occurs when blood leaks into the brain.

Thus treatment for this involves controlling blood pressure and constriction of blood vessels. Blood-thinning drugs are useful in such cases. Successful recovery from stroke involves speech therapy, occupational therapy, and group therapy which help in the rehabilitation of the patient. Many patients undergo depression after suffering a stroke; group therapy sessions that address this issue can be very helpful.

In the recent years, incidences of strokes have increased steadily. This has worried doctors all over the world. Health organizations worldwide are spreading mass awareness related to the effects of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases to reduce the current health burden.


TL;DR?

Facts

  • During one brain stroke, 32,000 brain cells die every second which is equal to 1.9 million brain cells dying per minute.
  • Stroke is not limited to only the elderly. About 1 out of every 3 stroke patients belongs to the age group of 20-64.

Facts

  • The most devastating kind of stroke is the basilar artery stroke since it causes full-body paralysis which is termed as the “locked-in” syndrome.
  • 60% of stroke-related fatalities occur in women. It kills more females than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer.

Facts

  • In the USA, stroke is the 4th most common cause of death.
  • Studies suggest that 90% of the strokes are preventable. It can be done by controlling obesity, high blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Always call paramedics if you see someone experiencing a stroke.
  • Have a heart-healthy diet. Avoid greasy and fatty food filled with sugar and trans-fats.
  • Limit stress. Stress can trigger a stroke or stroke-like symptoms.
Don'ts
  • Give the stroke patient aspirin tablets as it worsens the condition.
  • Offer the patient to eat or drink water as it may lead to severe choking.
  • Miss out on medications and exercising routine as prescribed by the doctor.

 

 

 

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Appendix pain: Recent findings on this not-so vestigial organ The exact function of the appendix is still not clear. Some consider it as an organ that once…
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…
SIBO Diet: The important dos and don’ts of this gut-healing diet A SIBO diet is a diet that works by eliminating certain sugars from your diet and adding fibers…
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.…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
hepatitis B envelope antigen
Hepatitis B Envelope Antigen (HBeAg) The HBeAg or hepatitis B envelope antigen test is a screening test used to diagnose the onset of…
lp-pla2
LP-PLA2 Test The LP-PLA2 test is a test which is carried out to assess the levels of Lipoprotein-Associated Phospholipase A2…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
Tachycardia heart
Cardiac Profile Cardiac profile is panel of blood tests performed to check cholesterol level and other heart disease markers to…
Smiling-happy-pretty-woman-with-flowers
Laughter Therapy– The Best Medicine for Healthy Living Read how laughter influences your stress hormones, belly fat, heart health, and more. Use these simple tips to…
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…
boost immunity tips
Step up your defence: 15 proven tips on how to boost your immunity Want to naturally build up a stronger immunity? Tired of frequent colds and runny nose?You will never believe…
aspartame or sugar
Aspartame – Hidden truths about this storm in a teacup Aspartame, the artificial sweetener, has gone under the scanner on several occasions for allegedly doing more harm than…
Elderberry: More than just a folk medicine for cold and sinusitis While the raw elderberry can be a hazard, when consumed in the form of teas and syrup, elderberry…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a tangy flavor to…
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…
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…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
blood elements analysis
Blood Element Analysis Test A blood element analysis is a blood test performed to measure the level of toxic elements such as…
iron deficiency profile
Iron Deficiency Profile An iron deficiency profile is a battery of blood tests which are performed in order to determine the…
shoudler exercises
Keep your shoulders pain-free with these shoulder exercises Shoulder exercises are important in order to prevent chronic back and neck pain. Learn more about how you…
about mediterranean diet
Why you should be adopting a Mediterranean style of diet today Ever wondered why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy? One simple solution to lowering risk of several deadliest…