Stroke, which is also referred to as cerebrovascular accident (CVA) occurs when a part of the brain is haemorrhagic due to leakage of blood through a punctured vein into the brain. It can also occur when a part of the brain is ischemic due to blockage of a vein that conducts blood into that part of the brain thereby starving the brain of necessary oxygen for its normal functioning. Stroke is mainly caused by the impairment of nerve function. Stroke is classified as a medical emergency because it can lead to death or permanent disability if not treated promptly.
Weakness, numbness, tingling feeling and loss of vision are some of the very common symptoms of stroke. These most of the time are followed by speech problem, confusion changes in the level of consciousness, and finding it difficult to understand what is spoken. Vomiting, nausea, and severe headache have also been reported especially when the stroke is haemorrhagic (bleeding in the brain). Stroke is classified as transient ischemic attack (TIA) or partial if the symptoms are resolved within 24 hours. Even at that, there is the need for immediate medical intervention to prevent the symptoms from reoccurring or resulting in full blown stroke.
High Risk Factors
High risk factors in stroke are hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and excessive drinking. Therefore, to remove oneself from danger list, there is the need to check and circumvent these risk factors.
Treatment for Stroke
The treatment of stroke depends on the type of stroke. For ischemic stroke, the focus is on restoring blood flow to the brain. As stated earlier, ischemic stroke results from nerve blockage which prevents blood flow thus denying the brain oxygen needed for proper functioning. To achieve restoration of blood flow, therefore, the doctor should do the following:
- Administer clotting-dissolving medicine also referred to as tissue plasminogen activator (TPA). This drug should enhance the recovery especially when it is administered within three to four hours when the symptoms were first noticed.
- Aspirin or any other antiplatelet medicine can also be used.
- Sometimes, the doctor may also introduce thrombectomy to restore the flow of blood to the brain. In this procedure, the doctor may use a thin tube and a tiny cage to remove the glot that caused the blockage which resulted in the stroke.
If, however, the stroke us haemorrhagic in nature (caused by bleeding in the brain because of a broken nerve), the focus of the treatment is on how to control the bleeding, reduce pressure in the brain and cause vital signs like blood pressure to become stable. The following should be done:
- To stop the bleeding, medicine could be administered intravenously. Part of the blood could also be transfused.
- The patient must be placed under close watch for signs of increased pressure on the brain. Signs that suggest such pressure include confusion, headache, and restlessness. Effort must also be made to prevent the patient from excessive coughing, straining to pass stool, vomiting, lifting or frequent change of position.
- The surgeon may also carry out surgery to remove ruptured tissues.
- Medicine can also be administered to bring brain swelling, blood pressure, fever, blood sugar level, fever and seizures under control.
After stability has been achieved in either type of stroke, treatment focus should be shifted to preventing future strokes and total recovery.