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A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly interrupted due to the presence of a blood clot (ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, spilling blood into the spaces surrounding brain cells (hemorrhagic stroke). Brain cells die when they no longer receive oxygen and nutrients from the blood or when they are damaged by sudden bleeding into or around the brain. This results in temporary or permanent neurologic impairment. Ischemic stroke, also known as cerebral infarction, accounts for 80 percent of all strokes, while hemorrhagic stroke accounts for the other 20 percent. In addition, some people suffer transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), which are mini-strokes that last only 5 to 20 minutes. In almost all TIAs, the symptoms go away within an hour. An estimated 550,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke each year, making this one of the most serious of all health problems. Half of stroke sufferers are left disabled, with many undergoing years of rehabilitation.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of stroke appear suddenly. If you notice any of these signs and symptoms, seek emergency medical help immediately for yourself or for someone you are with.
What Causes It?
Ischemic stroke results from the following causes.
Hemorrhagic stroke results from the following causes.
Who's Most At Risk?
Individuals with the following characteristics or health conditions are at a higher-than-average risk for developing a stroke.
What to Expect at Your Provider's Office
If you or someone you know experiences symptoms associated with stroke, call 911 emergency immediately. There are now effective therapies for stroke that must be administered at a hospital within the first three hours after stroke symptoms appear. At the hospital, a health care provider will make a diagnosis and guide you in determining which treatment or combination of therapies will work best for you. He or she will do a complete neurological exam and run a battery of tests, such as blood tests, an electrocardiogram, and a test to measure the severity of the stroke. Imaging techniques such as CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and magnetic resonance angiography(MRA) may be used to reveal the cause of the stroke and pinpoint blockages or reveal malformations.
Daily use of aspirin may reduce recurrence of stroke. Proper treatment of conditions that lead to stroke, such as atrial fibrillation or diabetes, can also reduce the risk of having one.
The primary goal in treating stroke patients is to prevent any neurological impairment from becoming irreversible. The therapeutic window is extremely short, making it crucial for an individual to seek treatment immediately upon noticing signs or symptoms.
A wide range of therapeutic measures may be administered to stroke patients, depending on the type and location of stroke and the extent of damage suffered. Many of these involve restoring proper blood flow to the brain.
Your provider may also prescribe medications, such as the following.
Surgical and Other Procedures
Surgery can be used to prevent stroke, to treat acute stroke, or to repair vascular damage or malformations in and around the brain. There are two major types of surgery for stroke prevention and treatment.
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
The goals of complementary and alternative therapies are to prevent strokes, treat risk factors (hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease), and prevent recurrences.
Nutritional tips include the following.
Potentially beneficial nutritional supplements include the following.
The use of certain herbal remedies may be helpful.
Herbs may be used as dried extracts (pills, capsules, or tablets), teas, or tinctures (alcohol extraction, unless otherwise noted). Dose for teas is 1 heaping tsp. herb/cup water steeped for 10 minutes (roots need 20 minutes).
An experienced homeopath can prescribe a regimen for treating stroke that is designed especially for you. Some of the most common acute remedies are listed below.
Acute dose is three to five pellets of 12X to 30C every one to four hours until symptoms are relieved.
Acupuncture may be helpful for rehabilitation.
There are many possible complications associated with stroke.
About 70 percent of stroke sufferers survive. They often undergo a long period of rehabilitation, involving physical and occupational therapies. About 80 percent of stroke patients can walk and 60 percent achieve self-care, while 25 percent experience moderate to severe impairment.
Following hospitalization, stroke patients must be carefully monitored for potential recurrence.
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