What is a stroke?
When there is an interruption in blood supply, possibly due to the blockage of a blood vessel, to a certain part of your brain, the brain tissues there are damaged and a stroke, also known as a brain attack’ happens. Physical problems like difficulty in speaking or thinking and paralysis can be caused by stroke. Sometimes, there are emotional problems too.
What does diabetes have to do with strokes?
The possibility of getting a heart attack, heart disease or a stroke is much greater if you suffer from diabetes. It is a fact that two-thirds of diabetics die as a result of heart disease or stroke. Fortunately, your risk for such problems can be reduced by taking good care of your blood vessels and your heart.
How do I know whether I’m at high risk for a stroke?
The risk is already there when you have diabetes but your risks can be multiplied if you:
- Have high blood pressure
- Have abnormal levels of blood cholesterol
- Are a smoker
- Have a history of TIA (transient ischemic attack) which is also known as mini-stroke, or stroke
- Have ITAs or stroke in family history
How can I lower my risk of having a stroke?
Your risk of getting a stroke can be reduced by controlling your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar with medication, exercise and meal planning. It is necessary to stop smoking too. Every effort counts. The closer you can get to the set targets, the better you are at preventing a stroke.
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What are the warning signs of a stroke?
Specific warning symptoms of a stroke are sudden and can be:
- Severe headache
- Double vision
- Trouble talking
- Numbness or weakness on either the body’s left side or the right side.
- Have trouble understanding or suddenly confused
- Trouble walking, loss of balance, or dizziness,
- Vision problem in at least one eye
At least one of the signs given above can occur temporary. This happens when the flow of blood is block temporarily. It is a condition known as TIA and it implies that you have the chance of a stroke in the near future.
Call 911 immediately, if you experience any of the symptoms given above.
Getting early treatment can assist you in avoiding permanent brain damage. You ought to go through all the stroke symptoms with friends and members of your family and inform them of the necessity of calling 911.
How is a stroke diagnosed?
If you and your doctor suspect a stroke, several tests can be done.
- An examination to look for body function changes will be done by your doctor. Your doctor may ask you to move your legs and arms to see if it can be done properly. The ability of your brain to function normally can be checked by getting you to describe a picture or read.
- A cerebral arteriogram needs to have a catheter go into one of the arteries at the neck. Dye is then injected so that X-rays can indicate if arteries are blocked or narrow.
- A CT scan or a CAT scan and the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) use scanning methods which give brain images while an ultrasound can be used to indicate carotid artery problems. The carotid arteries convey blood to your brain from your heart.
What are the treatments for stroke?
Treatment you need right away
To ensure as little damage as possible, drugs to disperse blood clots have to be administered within a few hours after the occurrence of the stroke. And that is the reason to call 911 once you realize you are experiencing symptoms.
Surgical treatments you may need
Some surgical treatment options are available for blocked blood vessels. These can be:
- Carotid stenting is used to get rid of a blockage in a blood vessel leading to the brain. A tiny tube with an attached balloon is sent to the blocked or narrowed blood vessel. The inflated balloon will open up the narrowed artery and a stent can be installed to make sure the artery remains open.
- Carotid artery surgery, also known as carotid endarterectomy is for the removal of fat inside arteries so as to ensure blood flow to your brain.
After a stroke, rehabilitation of muscles and parts of the body to enable them to function properly through the relearning of skills can be considered a treatment. Speech, occupational and physical therapy, besides psychological counselling, should also be used. To prevent future health problems, steps should be taken to have the patient stop smoking, learn to plan healthy meals, engage in physical activity as well as use medications to control cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood glucose.