What is a stroke

A stroke is usually a sudden change in brain function due to the damage or death of brain cells. This sudden change leads to a change in the usual functions of the whole body as well. For example, a stroke sufferer may not be able to speak or move their arm and leg.

In most cases, a stroke is ischemic, that is, it is the result of a reduction or cessation of blood supply to part of the brain tissue as a result of a complete or partial blockage of a cerebral artery.

Sometimes the stroke is also hemorrhagic – it occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and a subsequent hemorrhage occurs.

Stroke is a medical emergency and therefore, if you have doubts, do not wait and do not hesitate, but immediately seek emergency medical help.

When the blood supply to a part of the brain cells is significantly reduced or interrupted for more than a few hours, the brain neurons begin to die.

What are the symptoms of a stroke

The symptoms of a stroke depend on which part of the brain is the damaged blood vessel and how much of the brain tissue is affected.

  • Symptoms usually appear suddenly. This can be anywhere from a few minutes to 1 hour after the hemorrhage or blockage of the blood vessel.
  • Symptoms may come and go, or the stroke victim’s condition may worsen after a few hours.
  • If the symptoms do not disappear completely in a short time – in less than 24 hours, this condition is referred to as a transient ischemic attack.
  • 1/3 of all strokes happen during sleep and so people notice the symptoms when they wake up. This makes it difficult to fully recover from the stroke because it has been a while since part of the brain has been left without or with reduced blood supply.

The most common symptoms of stroke are:

  • Feeling of weakness in arm or leg or both limbs on one side. This can range from complete paralysis to very mild weakness
  • A feeling of weakness in the muscles of the face. One side of the face may droop, making the stroke victim’s face appear distorted. Speech may be slurred because one cannot control the movements of one’s lips or tongue.
  • When speaking, words should be pronounced clearly, but the speech should not be coherent.
  • Disorientation and difficulty maintaining body balance.
  • Dizziness or difficulty swallowing;
  • Vision problems – a person affected by a stroke may begin to see double or completely to lose peripheral vision.
  • Sudden extremely severe headache;
  • Loss of consciousness – a stroke victim may fall into unconsciousness and subsequently into a coma.

Stroke Treatment

A stroke is a condition that requires immediate emergency medical attention, and sometimes even seconds can be decisive. Brain cells begin within about 4 minutes of the onset of the stroke. If you suspect a stroke, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

  1. Don’t wait to see if your symptoms go away: A stroke is not something that resolves itself. Symptoms can intensify and get worse if you don’t get immediate treatment.
  2. Don’t call your GP: A stroke requires emergency hospital treatment. Your GP will not be able to help you quickly enough.
  3. Don’t take aspirin: Doctors may give you aspirin after you arrive at the hospital if they think it is suitable for you. However, you should not take aspirin alone as it may affect the treatment you will be given in hospital.
  4. Don’t drive alone: A stroke can impair coordination and your perception, making it an extremely dangerous condition to drive. Never try to drive, instead wait for the emergency services to arrive.
  5. Call the emergency number 112: Call the emergency number immediately and provide all necessary details and information , to help rescuers reach you as quickly as possible.
  6. Once you have received emergency medical care and been hospitalized, additional steps should be taken for treatment and rehabilitation:
  7. A team of specialists: Stroke requires multiple specialists, including neurologists, physical therapists and rehabilitators, who will work with you to help you regain function.
  8. Physical rehabilitation: Physiotherapy and occupational therapy are a common part of treatment after a stroke. They help restore your motor skills and independence.
  9. Speech and language therapy: For those whose speech and language are affected by stroke, speech and language specialists can provide the necessary therapy and education.
  10. Drug treatment: Depending on the type and cause of your stroke, you may be prescribed medication to control your blood pressure, reduce your risk of future strokes, and etc.
  11. Lifestyle changes: Your doctor may encourage you to make lifestyle changes, such as dietary changes, increasing physical activity, and stopping habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption.
  12. Psychological support: Stroke can be physically and emotionally draining for the patient and their loved ones. Psychological support and assistance with a psychologist or psychiatrist can be essential for recovery and adaptation after a stroke.
  13. Support for relatives: Stroke also affects the patient’s relatives. The support and understanding of family and friends can be of great importance for mental and physical recovery.

Stroke is a serious illness, but with appropriate and timely medical care, physical rehabilitation and support from loved ones, many patients achieve significant improvement and restoration of their quality of life. It is important to follow your doctor’s advice and prescriptions and work actively to recover from a stroke.

How to protect yourself from stroke

Stroke can be prevented! The most important thing to do is to measure your blood pressure regularly and treat it if it is high.

  • Ask your GP to monitor your blood pressure level as well. Even moderately high blood pressure for years can cause a stroke.
  • Treat high cholesterol with a proper diet combined with exercise, and you can also take anti-high cholesterol medications. High levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood, known as low-density lipoprotein, increase the risk of stroke because they create conditions for the narrowing of the lumen of the arteries.
  • In people with irregular heart rhythms such as atrial fibrillation, taking blood-thinning medications such as warfarin has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke.
  • In healthy people, taking aspirin has not been shown to lower the risk of stroke . Aspirin is recommended for stroke prevention only if prescribed by a doctor.
  • Blood sugar levels should be monitored and controlled in diabetes.
  • Stop cigarettes and never smoke again;
  • If you have brain aneurysms, treat them in time. Medicine has advanced and they can also be removed with an invasive procedure without having to open the skull. Therefore you have no reason to delay.

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