Strokes: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments and More

An image outlining the signs, causes, and treatments for strokes, a serious medical condition.
A visual aid detailing the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for strokes, a potentially life-threatening condition.

According to a recent report that was published in the Lancet Neurology journal, strokes could lead to nearly 10 million deaths by 2050. The rise in cases of hypertension, use of salt and sugar, sedentary lifestyle, etc. are some of the biggest contributors. If part of your brain doesn’t receive blood properly due to obstruction or injury, the brain cells in that area begin to die due to lack of oxygen and nutrients. This can create a shock to the brain which may result in a stroke.

Symptoms | Types | Causes | Risk Factors | Complications | Diagnosis | Management and Treatment | Rehabilitation | Prevention


Symptoms of Stroke

During a stroke, there is a loss of blood and damage to brain tissues. If one is aware of the signs and symptoms of strokes, immediate care can be given on time. Below given are some of the symptoms that you should look out for:

  • Paralysis of whole or parts of the body
  • Weakness in the whole or parts of the body, mostly in the legs, face and hands
  • Not able to comprehend the words of others
  • Unable to speak properly
  • Staying confused most of the time
  • Unstable behavior that is accompanied by frustration and anger
  • Trouble seeing objects clearly
  • Unable to walk properly
  • Feeling dizzy often
  • Nausea and vomiting

Types of Strokes

Strokes are mainly of three types:

  • Ischemic Stroke: In this type of stroke, blood clots prevent oxygen and other nutrients from reaching an area of the brain due to which cells die. This is the most common type of stroke and accounts for almost 87% of all cases.
  • Hemorrhagic Stroke: Blood vessels may rupture due to aneurysms or other reasons and lead to strokes.
  • Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): At times, blood flow to a part of the brain may get restricted for a very short duration and later get back to normal. This condition may result in a minor stroke.

Causes of Strokes

  • Atherosclerosis where the arteries get hard because of plaque buildup
  • Blood clots in the brain due to injury or other reasons
  • Irregular beating of the heart that leads to a condition known as atrial fibrillation
  • Heart diseases
  • High blood pressure
  • Brain tumors
  • Too much alcohol use
  • High cholesterol levels

Risk Factors Associated with Strokes

  • Too much fat in the body
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Too much intake of alcohol
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea where you stop breathing while sleeping
  • Family history of strokes
  • People above the age of 55
  • People of African-American ethnicity
  • Use of birth control pills


Complications of Strokes

Stroke is a deadly condition and can cause minor to major issues, depending on the person and his health. Some commonly seen complications of strokes include:

  • Paralysis or inability to move freely: Paralysis may occur on one side of the body or in certain parts such as the face, arms or legs.
  • Difficulty in talking properly: Stroke can damage or affect muscles in the mouth and throat due to which a person may not be able to talk properly. It can also make it difficult for the person to understand others’ speech, read or write like before.
  • Loss of memory: Memory loss is quite common in stroke and it can even damage the cells of the brain that help in thinking properly.
  • Pain in various parts of the body: Pain accompanied by numbness may occur in the arms, legs or the face.


Diagnosis of Strokes

Various neurological examinations are conducted along with diagnostic imaging and other tests to diagnose a stroke. The healthcare professional asks several questions and gives a few tasks to be completed by the patient in order to determine the severity of the condition. Some of the tests conducted by the healthcare provider include CT scans, lab blood tests, ECG tests, MRI tests, etc.

Management and Treatment of Strokes

Treatment of stroke depends on its type:

  • Ischemic Stroke: Here, the healthcare provider tries to restore the circulation of blood to the affected region of the brain. Excess and permanent damage can be prevented if on-time treatment and care are provided.
  • Hemorrhagic Stroke: Depending on the severity and the exact location of the bleeding, accurate treatment is provided. Here, the doctor tries to lessen the blood pressure and improve clotting so that bleeding stops.

Within the first three hours of visible stroke symptoms, thrombolytic drugs can be used to ease the blood clots. In many scenarios, a catheter (tube-like) device is inserted in the blood vessels to ease the symptoms of blood clots. This whole procedure is known as mechanical thrombectomy.

Surgery might be necessary in many cases to ease the pressure on the brain.

Stroke Rehabilitation

Once a person is affected by a stroke, various changes can be seen in his body, behavior and overall life. Rehabilitation is used to help the person adapt to these changes and regain their lost abilities. Some usually recommended rehabilitation include:

  • Speech therapy: This therapy is used to help the person regain his ability to speak and understand the language of other people clearly.
  • Physical therapy: Here, the focus is to enhance the functions of your body parts such as your hands, legs, arms, etc.
  • Occupational therapy: The affected person may find it difficult to manage his day-to-day activities post-stroke. This therapy can help improve body movements and overall muscle control.

Prevention of Strokes

Strokes can not be prevented completely but certainly, the risk can be minimized by following certain steps:

  • Leading a healthy lifestyle: Eating a healthy diet, engaging in physical activities and getting enough sleep are must to keep yourself away from most diseases, including strokes.
The image depicts the positive effects of exercise on the brain, including improved cognitive function and reduced risk of neurological disorders.
Benefits of physical activities on the brain
  • Keep yourself away from bad lifestyle habits: Avoid smoking, drinking too much alcohol, drug use, etc. These habits can deteriorate your overall health and may trigger stroke.
  • Take care of your health conditions: If you have diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc., it is quite important that you take all the necessary steps to manage them effectively.
  • Avoid certain food items: Caffeine-induced beverages such as coffee, tea, etc., and foods containing excess salt, saturated fats, etc. must be cut off from your overall diet.

Stroke is a life-threatening condition and requires immediate medical attention and any delay can cause permanent damage to the brain and may even prove fatal. However, if the right treatment is provided on time, this condition can be managed effectively.

This blog has been written after performing in-depth secondary research related to the topic from various articles, blogs, and journals with expertise in writing for healthcare. The content on this page should not be considered a substitute for medical expertise.


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