Stroke: symptoms, causes, treatment

If you have a stroke (CVA), part of the brain is damaged because part of the blood flow to the brain is blocked. This blockage can be caused by thrombosis or an embolism or by bleeding in one of the arteries to the brain. In 80% of the cases it is a stroke. The consequences of the stroke depend on the extent and location of the damage. A stroke is most common among the elderly over 70, but young people can also have a stroke. If you suspect that you or someone else is having a stroke, notify a doctor as soon as possible to minimize the damage.

Stroke - stroke

Operation of the brain

Via nerve bundles, information enters the brain and so we can see, hear, smell, feel and taste. Continuous signals are also sent from the brain itself to the nerve bundles, allowing us to move, sleep, eat, etc. and the blood circulation and breathing are also regulated via the brain. To do all this, the brain needs oxygen and energy, which is extracted from the blood. If the blood supply stops for whatever reason, then damage to the brain soon occurs. If the blood supply is briefly interrupted, the damage can be better than expected, but if it takes longer, part of the brain will suffer irreparable damage.

A stroke or TIA

In most cases, a stroke occurs without prior warning. A stroke is also called CVA, which is an abbreviation for Cerebro Vascular Accident. Sometimes the symptoms disappear within 24 hours, there is then a TIA, Transient Ischaemic Attack. You can see a TIA as a warning that a stroke may be imminent. If you suspect that you have had a TIA, go to the doctor the same day.
A stroke is caused by a blockage (cerebral infarction) or a bleeding (cerebral haemorrhage) in an artery to the brain. After a stroke, part of the brain stops functioning. Stroke is extra common if someone is already suffering from it;
  • High bloodpressure
  • Diabetes
  • Atherosclerosis
  • High cholesterol
  • Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)

Stroke symptoms

After having a stroke, the symptoms will become clear within seconds or minutes and depend on the location of the damage and the extent of the damage;
  • One side of the body can no longer be moved, or is very weakened
  • Numbness on the same side
  • Skew the face or have a drooping mouth
  • No more good motor skills on that side, trembling and awkwardness
  • Visual disturbances, such as blurred vision, double vision or blindness on one side
  • Unclear talk, gibberish, unable to find words or understand others
  • Dizziness, balance disorders
  • Throwing up
  • Severe headache in the event of a brain haemorrhage

Severe symptoms;

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma
  • Passing away

When to call 112?

If you notice one or more of the above symptoms in yourself or in someone else, call the emergency number immediately. If action can be taken within 4.5 hours in the event of a cerebral infarction, this can limit the permanent damage.

Causes of stroke

  • Brain thrombosis; a blood clot has formed in an artery in the brain
  • Brain embolism; an embolism that has formed elsewhere in the body enters the bloodstream and blocks an artery in the brain
  • Cerebral haemorrhage, an artery in the brain is torn and the blood enters the brain.

Blood clots occur faster in damaged arteries. Such damage occurs due to artherosclerosis, there is fat deposits in the vessel walls. The risk of atherosclerosis is increased by;
  • Eat a lot of fat
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Increased blood cholesterol
  • High bloodpressure
  • Too little exercise
  • Eating too much saturated fat
  • Age
  • Heredity

Risk factors

  • High bloodpressure
  • Cardiac arrhythmias, heart valve disorders and a heart attack. All three promote the formation of blood clots
  • Sickle cell anemia, abnormal red blood cells clot faster and can thus block blood vessels
  • Narrowing of blood vessels to the brain
  • Inflammation of blood vessels to the brain
  • Autoimmune disease, where the immune system attacks its own tissue

Recording on the Stroke Unit

If it is found that you have had a stroke, you will be admitted to the stroke unit for 48 to 72 hours. This is a department where different specialisms work together and the cause of the stroke is investigated.

Diagnosis and treatment of stroke

Investigations must be made at the hospital to determine whether the stroke is the result of an embolism or bleeding. This can be done with a CT scan, MRI scan, Doppler ultrasound or brain angiography.
You can also start with;
  • Thrombolysis in which medicines are given via a drip to dissolve clots. This treatment is only possible during the first 4.5 hours after the stroke
  • Physiotherapy
  • Aspirin to reduce the formation of blood clots
  • Medications for high blood pressure

The following may be necessary after leaving the hospital;

  • Rehabilitation doctor
  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational therapy for re-learning daily care, cooking, etc.
  • Advice from an incontinence nurse because you cannot hold the urine or stool properly
  • Speech therapy for people with speech problems
  • If someone suffers from depression, antidepressants and talk therapy can be started

Video: Stroke Signs, Symptoms Treatment. Dr. Reza Jahan - UCLA Health (February 2020).

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