A stroke takes place when there is an obstruction in the blood flow to an area of the brain. If the blood supply remains suspended for more than a few seconds, the brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients. This can cause death of the brain cells and permanent damage.
Strokes are classified into two categories: hemorrhagic stroke and ischemic stroke.
In a hemorrhagic stroke, a blood vessel in the brain weakens and ruptures, causing blood to seep into the brain. Defects in the blood vessels such as aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation may increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
In an ischemic stroke, the blood flow to the brain is obstructed due to a blood clot. Blood clots may develop when an artery narrows. This is known as thrombotic stroke. Clots in other parts of the body may also break apart and move towards the brain. This condition is known as embolic stroke.
The symptoms of ischemic stroke include:
An accurate diagnosis, the exact location and cause are essential in case of ischemic stroke. Apart from a preliminary physical examination, doctors may make use of various tests to diagnose an ischemic stroke such as MRI, CT scan, echocardiogram, cerebral angiogram and carotid ultrasound.
The immediate treatment for an ischemic stroke involves administering medications to dissolve the clots, reduce swelling in the brain and prevent brain damage. In some cases, doctors may prescribe medications to prevent a stroke from occurring or to prevent the formation of additional blood clots. Surgical treatment involves procedures such as craniotomy, carotid stenting and carotid endarterectomy. Procedures to treat aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations may also be performed.
Alternative treatments such as gentle aerobic exercise, hydrotherapy, massage and acupuncture may be used to provide relief from paralysis. A stroke usually hampers an individual's ability to speak clearly. Speech therapy may be helpful in this regard.
Certain foods are believed to be therapeutic for those who have suffered a stroke. These include foods rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It is advisable to follow a doctor's guidance before starting any alternative therapy or making any dietary changes.