Brain Stroke: Its causes, types, treatments, and prevention
What Is a Brain Stroke?
A stroke is when there is a blockage in the blood flow to the brain or if a blood vessel ruptures. The blockages in the artery or ruptured blood vessels prevent blood and oxygen supply to the brain tissues. Lack of blood supply and oxygen cause the brain cells to die.
Brain stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency. Immediate medical help and treatment can help save you from permanent damage and other complications.
Categories of a Brain Stroke
There are three main categories or types of brain stroke:
- Trauma or accident
- High blood pressure
- Overtreatment with blood thinners
- Ischemic stroke that leads to a haemorrhage
- Protein deposits in the walls of the blood vessel
Transient ischemic attack:
This stroke occurs when the brain's blood vessels get blocked or narrowed due to fatty deposits, blood clots, or other particles that travel through the bloodstream.
This stroke occurs due to a burst or a leaking blood vessel in the brain. The factors leading to a hemorrhagic stroke are:
A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a temporary period of symptoms of brain stroke. It occurs due to a temporary decrease in blood supply to the brain. TIA does not cause permanent damage to the brain. However, it is necessary to seek immediate medical help.
What Are the Causes of a Brain Stroke?
The causes of brain stroke depend upon the type of brain stroke. An ischemic stroke occurs because of a blood clot, which can be due to:
- Atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries)
- Clotting disorders (a disorder that makes blood form clots easily)
- Heart defects
- Microvascular ischemic disease (narrowing of small blood vessels)
- Atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm)
Hemorrhagic strokes occur due to:
High blood pressure
Brain aneurysms (swelling in a weak spot in the blood vessel in or around the brain)
Other factors that increase your risk of a brain stroke are:
Type 2 diabetes
Obstructive sleep apnea
Family history or personal history of heart attack or ischemic attack
How Is a Brain Stroke Diagnosed?
Your doctor will begin by asking your family members about your symptoms of brain stroke. They will rule out other possible causes, such as drug use or brain tumour. Then they will order the following tests:
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI):
To help listen to your heartbeat and check your blood pressure. It will also include a neurological test to study the effects of the stroke on your nervous system.
To measure your blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, platelet count, how fast your blood clots and if you have an infection.
For a detailed image of your brain using a series of X-rays. A CT Scan can detect bleeding in the brain, a tumour, and an ischemic stroke.
For a detailed image of your brain. With the help of an MRI, your doctor will check for brain tissue damage due to an ischemic stroke and brain haemorrhage.
For a detailed image of the carotid arteries in the neck. This test helps check for fatty deposits and blood flow in the carotid arteries.
For a detailed image of the heart. An ECG helps check your heart for clots that may have travelled to the brain.
For a detailed look at the arteries in your neck and brain. In this test, the doctor inserts a long tube through a small incision or cut in your groin. They guide this tube through the main arteries, the carotid artery, and check for blockages or clots that could have caused the symptoms of brain stroke.
What Are the Complications Associated With a Brain Stroke?
Depending upon how long the brain was without oxygen and which part was affected by the lack of blood flow, it can cause temporary or permanent disabilities.
Complications of brain stroke are:
- Paralysis on one side of the body or loss of control over one arm or one side of the face.
- Memory loss, difficulty in thinking, reasoning, understanding, and making judgements
- Emotional problems, depression
- Difficulty in talking or swallowing
- Behavioural changes
- Pain, numbness and tingling sensation
How to Treat a Brain Stroke?
Treatment of brain stroke depends upon the type of brain stroke.
Treatment for Ischemic Stroke and TIA:
- Thrombolytic drugs to loosen or dissolve a blood clot
- Mechanical thrombectomy to help remove a clot if drugs are not an option.
- Stents to inflate the narrowed artery
- Surgery to remove blood clots and plaque from the artery
Treatment for Hemorrhagic Stroke:
- Medications to reduce blood pressure, lower the pressure in the brain, prevent seizures and blood vessel constriction
- Surgical clipping to prevent an aneurysm from bleeding
- Coiling, where a detachable coil is placed into the aneurysm and helps blood clot
- Clamping, where a tiny clamp is placed at the base of an aneurysm to prevent it from bleeding again
- Stereotactic radiosurgery to repair malformations in the blood vessel
What Can be Done to Prevent a Brain Stroke?
To reduce your risk of brain stroke you must
- Eat a healthy diet
- Exercise regularly
- Quit smoking, tobacco, and alcohol
- Get enough sleep
- Manage your blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol
- Go for regular health check-ups
How Do People Live With a Brain Stroke?
Following doctor's orders regarding medications and therapy is crucial for a complete recovery after a brain stroke. People with a brain stroke must,
- Take prescribed medications
- Go for the recommended therapy sessions
- Make changes in diet and lifestyle
- Manage other health conditions, such as blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol
- Get help for mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, that are common after brain stroke.
A brain stroke is equivalent to a heart attack. It is a life-threatening medical emergency. If your loved ones have any symptoms of brain stroke, getting them immediate medical help is crucial. Medications, therapy, and technological advances in medical science can help limit the effects of a stroke and improve the chances of recovery.
Gleneagles Global Hospital at Lakdi-ka-pul, Hyderabad, is the best-known tertiary care multispeciality hospital. Book an appointment with our expert specialists at the best neurology hospital in Hyderabad, who will provide you with all the necessary advice on brain stroke, its treatment and care. For more information, please visit the hospital's website.