Stroke

Stroke

Overview

When a blood vessel in the brain bursts or when the blood supply to the brain is cut-off due to a cardiac arrest, the blood flow to the brain will stop. A stroke is a condition in which the brain cells do not receive blood (and hence oxygen) and eventually die. Stroke can prove fatal if left untreated.

Signs and symptoms

  • Paralysis on one side of the body
  • Slurred speech
  • A feeling of confusion
  • Problems with vision
  • Headache and vomiting
  • Instability while walking

The symptoms depend on which part of the brain has been affected/damaged.

Causes and risk factors

An ischemic stroke is caused by the deposition of fat in the brain blood vessels. This leads to narrowing of blood vessels and a reduction in blood supply.

A hemorrhagic stroke happens when there is a rupture in a blood vessel due to causes like high BP, road traffic accident, aneurysms, etc.

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a mini-stroke that is caused by short-term reduction in brain blood supply. Those who experience TIA are at greater risk of a stroke.

Risk factors include:

  • Age – the risk increases significantly over the age of 55
  • Men are more at risk than women
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Increased bad cholesterol level
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Illegal drug consumption
  • Absence of physical activity
  • Cardio vascular conditions
  • Family history of stroke

Complications

  • Paralysis on one side of the body
  • When the mouth and throat muscles are affected, there might be difficulty speaking, swallowing, etc.
  • Loss of memory and inability to understand situations
  • Possibility of depression and problems with emotional management
  • Pain in some parts of the body

Diagnosis

  • Detailed medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Blood tests
  • CT scan to check the damage done to the brain
  • Electrocardiogram or ECG to see if a heart condition was the cause of stroke
  • Cerebral angiogram to check the brain arteries
  • Carotid ultrasound to check for fat deposits in the carotid arteries
  • Echocardiogram to check for blood clots in the heart which might be a cause of stroke

Surgery/Treatment

The treatment protocols depend on the type of stroke.

An ischemic stroke will be treated with:

  • Anti-coagulants and other drugs that will act on the blood clots to break them down.
  • Sometimes a stent may be placed to widen the artery
  • Surgery to remove the clot/plaque

A hemorrhagic stroke will be treated with:

  • Medicines to impede the effect of blood thinners
  • Coiling will be done wherein a coil like device will be placed to control the hemorrhage
  • Clamping aneurysms to stop them from rupturing
  • Surgery to handle ruptured aneurysm
  • Surgery to relieve pressure on the brain (craniotomy)

Prevention

  • Good lifestyle practices – eating healthy, exercising
  • Quitting smoking
  • Weight management
  • Making sure BP, sugar levels, etc. are all within control
  • Regular medical check-ups that will help detect dormant conditions

Other Diseases
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