Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Anatomy Of A Stroke

A stroke is a devastating attack upon the body that often comes on suddenly, many times without warning. Known as the "silent killer", what many people do not realize is that it can be prevented, quite easily if they simply have a regular physical, and stay on top of any developing medical conditions.

What is a Stroke?

By definition, a stroke occurs whenever a blood vessel in the brain gets blocked or damaged. Without oxygen being delivered through that blood vessel, the brain begins to die, and whatever part of the body that portion of the brain controls will no longer work as it should. Brain damage can occur within minutes of the blood stoppage but quick treatment can limit the amount of damage and increase the chances for a full recovery.

Stroke Symptoms

There are several distinct symptoms that are considered to be signs of stroke, and if you should develop any of the following, please seek medical assistance immediately. There is also a condition known as a transient ischemic attack or TIA, that, while not as seriously damaging, its presence could be considered to be a harbinger of things to come.

Stroke symptoms include:

* Sudden numbness, tingling, loss of movement or weakness: This will occur in the face, arm or leg, on one side of the body only.

* Vision Changes: This could be anything from spots obscuring vision to sudden blurriness in one eye or a complete loss of vision in one eye.

* Trouble Speaking: If the blood is stopped to the portion of the brain that controls vision or speech, the ability to speak clearly ends and your speech may become slurred.

* Confusion: As the brain loses oxygen, cognitive reasoning will begin to slow, making it hard to understand even the most simple line of thought or concept.

* Sudden Onset Headache: This headache is a sign of oxygen deprivation to the brain, and will be quite painful.

* Problems with Walking or Balance: You will lose the ability to balance as you move, or you may experience weakness on one side of the body. It will become increasingly difficult to move about on your own as your balance deteriorates.

Types and Causes

An ischemic stroke is caused by a blood clot that completely blocks a blood vessel in the brain. It could form within the vessel, or it could travel from elsewhere in the body to the brain. This is the most common type of attack in adults today, and nearly 8 out of every 10 strokes will be an ischemic stroke. Blood clots form for various reasons, and unless they are caught early and removed, they can break free and travel throughout the body.

A hemorrhagic stroke will develop when an artery in the brain either leaks or breaks, causing bleeding inside of the brain or near its surface. These are less common but are actually more deadly than a ischemic stroke, because bleeding in the brain can cause it to shut down far more quickly, and the entire event can become critical within seconds.


The first thing done upon arrival is for the patient to undergo a CT scan, which will show where any bleeding is occurring. Treatment for ischemic strokes will focus on restoring blood flow to the brain where the clot occurred. The medicine used to treat this will dissolve clot quickly, and improve recovery from stroke, if given within 90 minutes of the attack.

Hemorrhagic strokes are very difficult to treat effectively. Surgery or other methods to stop the bleeding may be required, to prevent swelling of the brain. This can include medicines that will affect your blood pressure, agents to counteract the swelling and coagulants to reduce the bleeding.


To avoid the possibility of a stroke, the easiest thing to do is to listen to your body. If health issues develop, see a doctor and get treated, especially if you have a family history of high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes. Simple lifestyle changes like a healthy diet, and quitting smoking and alcohol use will also reduce your chances of one ever happening to you.

Want more information on how you can prevent a stroke from ever happening to you? The professionals at Trinity Primary Care want nothing more than your continued health, and are happy to help answer any questions you might have, so call them today. Also check out our new page on Stroke.

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