What causes Stroke?

A stroke is a form of injury to the brain. Another name for it is "apoplexy". The older term for this ailment was cerebrovascular accident. A stroke basically occurs, when the flow of blood to a part of the brain is suddenly, entirely cut off. This is called "ischemia". As a result of this, all the structures connected with that part are injured.

There are a variety of reasons that can cause failure of the blood to reach a part of the brain. A blood vessel may be ruptured and cause a hemorrhage. A clot may form withing a blood vessel. This is also called thrombosis. There may be spasm of an artery. Or a blood vessel may become closed off because of a small particle, often a blood clot, floating in the blood stream. This is called an arterial embolism. A stroke due to this cause is usually linked up with heart disease, but strokes may occur due to other diseases and reasons too. Like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and atrial fibrillation.

In terms of the damage it does to the victim, it does not really matter what causes the stroke, since once the blood flow stops the damage occurs. The extent of damage depends on what part of the brain stops receiving the blood. That part of the brain through which pass the nerves that control our voluntary motions, our sensations of pain, our temperature, touch and vision may be damaged. This basically means that one might lose the ability to move their hands or legs, talk or even understand speech.

The most frequent cause of stroke is thrombosis. Strangely enough a person can have this kind of a stroke after a period of inactivity, because since the blockage of an artery is gradual the occurrences of the symptoms of a thrombotic stroke are slower. For example a person might wake up in the morning to discover that an arm, or a leg, or even a whole side of the body is useless. Or he may find that he can hardly speak or not speak at all. People with this kind of stroke have a pretty good chance of recovery, but there is usually some permanent disability.

In treating a stroke, the doctor has to find out what caused it and nip the problem at its bud. This means treating the cause and helping the victim recover from the symptoms. So the doctor needs a complete history of the illness of the person. People who become crippled in some way by a stroke can often be rehabilitated; that is, trained to regain the use of the function that was crippled. This even includes use of muscles and the ability to speak again. However as the age old maxim goes, prevention is better than cure.

In case of stroke Secondary prevention is more effective than Primary prevention. Since a stroke might indicate some underlying atherosclerosis it is usually advisable to determine a patientís risk of a cardiovascular disease. Anti-platelet medicines like aspirin can also be given to reduce the risk of stroke in this condition.

Modifiable risk factors that can be controlled to reduce the risk of strokes include blood pressure, blood cholesterol levels, cigarette smoking and diabetes. This is important because factors like hypertension (high blood pressure) are responsible for up to fifty percent of the strokes. Controlling blood pressure can reduce the risk of strokes considerably. In case of high blood cholesterol medication using statins like Lipitor can decrease the risk. A Study conducted by American Society of Hematology have also shown that a healthy Mediterranean style diet consisting of higher consumption of Olive oil, fruits, vegetables, whole food like unrefined cereals, fish and yogurt can decrease the risk of stroke by more than fifty percent.

Rehabilitation and recovery after a stroke involves helping the victim return to a normal everyday life. This is done by a multidisciplinary rehabilitation team with a staff of nurses, speech therapists, physicians and physiotherapists. Some teams can also include psychologists to help the victims deal with post-stroke depression.

As a family member of a stroke victim one must learn to play a supporting role and treat the victim with due care and caution.

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

Disclaimer: The suggestions in the article(wherever applicable) are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or any other type of advice