HEALTH CONDITIONS

A comprehensive list of today's common ailments and health conditions.

Stroke

By Angela Young

Strokes occur in the brain when blood flow to the brain is blocked. When the brain is unable to get enough oxygen the body is unable to function as it normally would. Depending on the size of the stroke there may not be any actually symptoms that a person will notice. However, if a person experiences a series of small strokes, there will be damage to the brain tissues.

Strokes have several causes and many symptoms. Ignoring symptoms of stroke can be fatal. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of stroke because getting treatment as soon as possible when suffering a stroke is vital to survival and to minimizing the complications that can accompany a stroke episode.

Stroke Symptoms

There are five major signs of stroke. Knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke is essential. The most obvious sign of stroke is sudden and unexplained numbness of a part of the body. Typical numbness will develop on one side of the body, not both. Numbness of the face, loss of voluntary movement and tingling sensations in the same areas of the body that are experiencing the other symptoms are all things to look for as warning signs of stroke.

Inability to speak or sudden confusion, sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes without any explanation, trouble walking or dizziness and sudden headache with no known cause are all symptoms of stroke.

Stroke Causes

There are several causes of strokes. The most common cause of stroke is blockage of an artery in the brain. When blood is unable to get to the brain the brain tissue begins to die and cause the symptoms of stroke. Blood clots in the brain, which cause the blocked arteries, can develop because of hypertension, high cholesterol, smoking and the chronic disease, diabetes.

Embolic strokes happen when a piece a clot travels from elsewhere in the body and ends up in a small artery of the brain where it blocks the circulation and then causes a stroke. There are also strokes that are not the result of clots. Cerebral hemorrhage and subarachnoid hemorrhages are the result of blood vessels rupturing in the brain. When this happens the blood in brain eventually causes swelling and stroke because the excess blood blocks the oxygen to brain causing the brain tissue to die.

Stroke Diagnosis

There are several tests and scans that can help a doctor determine if a patient is actually suffering from a stroke and not a medical condition that mimics the signs and symptoms of stroke such as a brain tumor might. If there is a possibility that someone is suffering a stroke it is important to seek immediate medical attention. When a patient presents possible stroke symptoms doctors will work quickly by taking a patient history and doing a physical evaluation simultaneously. The patient will have blood tests and monitoring of vital signs will begin.

A neurologist is usually involved in making the diagnosis of stroke in a patient. In addition the physical evaluation and taking a patient's medical history, doctors will usually have x-rays, MRI's, heart tests and EKG's done to help diagnose the stroke.

Stroke Treatment

If a doctor can treat a patient within three hours of developing stroke symptoms most doctors will administer clot-busting drugs, which work to dissolve the clot in the brain and restore proper blood and oxygen flow to the brain. Some doctors will also give patients blood-thinning medications if they feel it is necessary.

If someone suffers a stroke the rehabilitation may also be necessary to restore the functionality of the patient's body. Stroke can cause paralysis and leave someone unable to speak. Rehabilitation can in many cases successfully restore the ability of someone to move and speak overtime.


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