Stroke is also known as a Cerebrovascular accident (CVA) in medical terminology. As per Center of Disease Control and American Stroke Association, stroke is one of the leading causes of death and major cause of disability in the United States. Different clinical symptoms can occur as a result of a stroke. This includes loss of consciousness, loss of sensory and or motor functions, loss or deficits in cognitive, swallowing and verbal capacity of an individual. A person after stroke may not be able to achieve full recovery. In at least 90% of cases, a person is not able to gain full recovery after a stroke. That means a patient has to leave with some residuals of stroke throughout his lifetime!! These residuals can be a physical impairment. But it can cause a major impact on person’s social and emotional state of mind. Thus, Stroke not only makes a person physically disabled but also causes depressions and isolation. The good thing is that in many cases it just does not show up at your door (in this case, in your brain!) with no early signs!. Stroke, for sure, is not going to wait for our invitation, but there are certain doors that we can close (signs that we consider) to prevent it coming(happening). This is a good thing. We have some control over it and with some efforts we can prevent it from happening. So let’s talk about some factors and early signs of stroke.
There are mainly two types of stroke. Ischemic and Haemorrhagic stroke.
This is due to low/no blood supply to any part of the brain causing brain tissue to die. Brain tissue usually gets its nutrients from the blood and with no blood supply, they deprived of this nutrients, causing an ischemia to the area. Usually, it happens due to a blood clot or thrombus in an artery supplying the brain. Sometimes, this thrombus can dislodge and becomes emboli. These emboli can travel to a distal part of the brain, causing occlusion and infarction.
- Haemorrhagic Stroke:
This is a less common type of stroke. It is due to uncontrolled and abnormal bleeding in vascular areas of the brain causing increase in intracranial pressure.
Risk factors for Stroke:
There are few risk factors for stroke. Some are modifiable and some are not.
Modifiable Risk factors:
- Diabetes Mellitus
- High serum cholesterol
- Alcohol use
- Cocaine use
- Heart disorders like CHF, A fib, CAD
Nonmodifiable risk factors:
- Family history
- Past history of CVA
Early Signs of Stroke:
The feels/shows that something is not going so right!! Below are some important signs to consider.
Unexplained fatigue/exhaustion throughout the day/weakness on one part of the body/on arms or legs: When a person consistently feels tired even after regular hours of sleep. The exhaustion that can not be explained by any other medical reason. If that is the case then it is time to visit your primary physician. Again fatigue can be due to many other medical conditions like abnormal lab values. So if someone is tired all the time, don’t assume he or she is going to have a stroke! If this happens to you, please visit your doctor and get some labs done.
Sudden weakness in the body:
This is important. Someone suddenly starts feeling they are weak. The weakness can be generalized or on one side of body or body part. This weakness can not be explained by any reason and it is sudden in nature. This is a sign that your brain is not able to send enough signals to your body parts.
This can be a blurry vision, a double vision or a sudden loss of vision. It is even more appropriate if a person complains of vision problems in only one eye.
Fainting or Dizziness:
Sudden loss of balance, unable to stand or walk straight without falling down, or feeling of dizziness is another indicator of something is “brewing” in the brain. Complain of a sudden and severe headache is also a major indicator of possible stroke.
BP and HR stay up higher than the usual number:
To meet the demand for oxygen and nutrients, the heart has to work harder and so the number will go up. When a part of the brain is not receiving the proper blood supply, the heart will have to work hard to send more blood to the brain area.
You “feel” something is wrong:
This is more of person’s intuition. I always tell my patients that they know their body the best. I also tell them that I don’t feel what they feel. So if they feel there is something wrong with them and it needs a medical attention. Then go for it. Prevention is always better than cure.
So these are few early signs of stroke. Getting medical help the earliest is very important and directly related to significant recovery. Not all strokes will show all signs. Some people may feel different symptoms in addition to mentioned above. If you or your loved ones are complaining about this than it is a time to visit your doctor and get checked out.
Tips to prevent Stroke (CVA)
Eating healthy food helps to maintain cholesterol and glucose level. It keeps the values under control and prevents your arteries from rupturing causing hemorrhage.
Cigarette cessation, controlling alcohol consumption and no drug abuse helps to reduce the chances of stroke significantly.
Regular exercise helps in many ways. It keeps you healthy, reduces stress and keeps your blood pressure and heart rate under control. Exercise (mainly aerobic) is the best way to provide relaxation and nutrients to your brain. So you are not only providing benefits to your body or musculoskeletal system but also taking care of the brain. How wonderful!
Relaxation or stress management:
This is very important in today’s lifestyle. Gentle yoga or meditation can help a person relax and manage stress. Reducing stress can help to keep the lab numbers at baseline and keep your body happy.
Anything that can improve your cardiac profile like reducing levels of low-density cholesterol, taking care of DM and obesity reduces the risk of stroke.
Stroke is a very complex event. The effect of stroke on person’s body depends on what part of the brain is affected and to what extent. It also depends on how quickly a person was able to get medical help after the stroke. Prior lifestyle, age, family or social support plays a huge role in person’s recovery. The idea of this blog is to share some early signs to spread awareness about stroke.
Hope this helps!!