A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is partially or completely reduced, depriving the brain of necessary blood and oxygen and ultimately causing brain damage. There are two main types of stroke, ischemic and hemorrhagic, but for the purpose of this paper, the focus will be on ischemic stroke. Ischemic strokes account for approximately 87% of all stoke cases and occur as the result of an obstruction within a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain. The obstruction can either be a cerebral thrombosis or a cerebral embolism. An ischemic stroke would be classified as thrombotic if the clot forms in an artery that is already very narrow. In contrast, a stroke would be classified as embolic when a clot forms in another part of the circulatory system and then proceeds to travel to brain and causes a blockage in smaller vessels. The underlying cause of ischemic strokes is atherosclerosis, which is defined the buildup of fatty deposits inside the vessel walls and it is the buildup of these fatty deposits that leads to blockages, and ultimately stroke. Risk Factors
There are many different factors that contribute to an individual’s risk of experiencing a stroke. Some risk factors can be reduced, treated, and changed, but others are more permanent and serve as lifelong risks. For instance, an example of a long term effect would be that the risk of suffering from a stroke increases with age and approximately doubles each decade after an individual reaches the age of 55. Stroke is also more common among men than women and the risk for experiencing a stroke increases if there is a family history of it as well. In contrast, factors such as poor diet, smoking cigarettes, and a lack of physical activity are risk factors for stroke that can be controlled and reduced. High blood pressure is also one of the leading causes of stroke, as well as high blood cholesterol and heart disease. These risks are typically considered high risk and are associated with less healthy lifestyles, but do have the potential to be overcome given a proper diet and exercise plan. Symptoms
Identifying the symptoms of stroke is essential to recovery, since the longer it goes untreated, the greater the chance of severe brain damage and disability. One of the common symptoms of stroke is lack of coordination. Individuals may face difficulties walking, experience dizziness, or be prone to lose balance and stumble. Another common symptom of stroke is difficulty speaking. Individuals experiencing a stroke may slur their words and some may have difficulty understanding speech as well. In addition, another symptom of stroke is paralysis or numbness of the face, arms, or legs. When this occurs, it is important to note that paralysis is most often is present on one side of the body, but can be seen in both sides as well. Difficulty with one’s vision is also a symptom of stroke and can be present in either one or both eyes. The sudden appearance of a severe headache is additionally a symptom and is often accompanied by dizziness and vomiting. All symptoms of stroke need to be taken seriously and individual’s displaying them should be rushed to a hospital as soon as possible.
Treatment and Recovery
As mentioned earlier, the longer a stroke goes undiagnosed, the greater the probability of severe brain damage and disability. Furthermore, treatment of stroke is most effective in the early stages, specifically within the first three hours. This section will look at the different treatment and recovery options for individuals suffering from ischemic strokes. Treatment
In regards to treatment of an ischemic stroke, doctors typically first rely on thrombolytic medication to help break down the clot and restore blood flow to the brain. Aspirin is typically given after an ischemic stroke to prevent the formation of additional clots and reduce the likelihood of another stroke. Heparin is another blood thinning agent that may be used...
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Chollet, F., & Albucher , J. (2012). Strategies to augment recovery after stroke. Current treatment options in neurology, Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22865294
Mayo Clinic. (2012, July 03). Stroke. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stroke/DS00150
National Stroke Association. (2012, August). Effects of stroke. Retrieved from http://www.stroke.org/site/PageNavigator/HOME
Stroke. In (2012). U.S. National Library of Medicine. PubMed Health. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001740/
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