Nov 16, 2009 5:37 PM by Nat'l Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
What is stroke?
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly interrupted or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, causing blood to spill into spaces surrounding brain cells.
Brain cells die when they no longer receive oxygen and nutrients from the blood or if there is sudden bleeding into or around the brain.
There are two forms of stroke:
* Ischemic, or blockage of a blood vessel supplying the brain.
* Hemorrhagic, or bleeding into or around the brain.
What are the symptoms?
* Sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body.
* Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech.
* Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
* Sudden trouble with walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination.
* Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Is there any treatment?
Therapies to prevent a first or recurrent stroke are based on treating an individual's underlying risk factors for stroke, such as hypertension, atrial fibrillation and diabetes.
Therapy immediately after the stroke
Acute stroke therapies try to stop a stroke while it is happening by quickly dissolving the blood clot causing an ischemic stroke or by stopping the bleeding of a hemorrhagic stroke.
Post-stroke rehabilitation helps individuals overcome disabilities that result from stroke damage. Drug therapy is the most common treatment for stroke.
What happens after a stroke?
Stroke can affect the entire body. A common disability that results is complete paralysis on one side of the body, called hemiplegia.
A related disability that is not as debilitating as paralysis is one-sided weakness or hemiparesis.
Stroke may cause problems with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment and memory. Stroke survivors often have problems understanding or forming speech.
A stroke can also lead to emotional problems. Patients may have difficulty controlling their emotions or may express inappropriate emotions. Many patients experience depression. Stroke survivors may also have numbness or strange sensations. The pain is often worst in the hands and feet and is made worse by movement and temperature changes, especially cold temperatures.