How To Spot A Stroke
What Is A Stroke
A stroke is a series of events that leads to the brain being deprived of oxygen and nutrients through a lack of blood supply. When this happens cells in the brain begin to die which can cause permanent brain damage and you will begin to see the effects immediately: non-symmetric smile, difficulty with arms, slurred speech etc.
The brain and skull have a delicate balance of protection and "breathing room" to accommodate swelling from injury. If the head experiences some trauma an intracerebal hematoma (also know as intracranial hematoma) can occur when a vein or artery ruptures and causes a bleed in the brain tissue causing cells to die. This type of hemorrhaging can occur either through head trauma or a stroke (a clot). The bleed puts pressure on the brain and can cause death if not treated immediately.
This type of stroke happens when the brain is starved of oxygen and nutrients due to a blocked artery. The arteries involved are usually significant ones that supply the brain with its need nutrients on a consistent basis and without them the cells begin to die. This type of stroke can come on very suddenly and without much warning prior to the event which in a way can be much more devastating to the patient and their families.
What To Look Out For
Head Trauma Stats
Have you ever had an intracerebral hematoma or head trauma?
Symptoms Of A Stroke
When someone has experienced head trauma it is always advisable to get them checked out by a medical professional to rule out any complications such as a hemorrhagic stroke. Having a blocked artery (also referred to as an ischemic stroke) will also cause the same symptoms and you should also look out for the following tells:
- Severe headache
- Loss of consciousness
If you notice someone with these symptoms who have not experienced recent head trauma then they may be having a ischemic stroke and emergency medical treatment is needed. Sometimes it is difficult to spot a stroke so you should act F.A.S.T and look out for these main symptoms:
- Face: has their face dropped on one side?
- Arms: can they lift up both arms and hold them there?
- Speech: is their speech slurred or difficult to understand?
- Time: if you see any of these symptoms it's time to dial for an ambulance.
Please watch this video on spotting a stroke as you may use the information to save someone's life one day.
Can You Identify A Stroke?
Diagnosis and Treatment
Once the symptoms have been diagnosed and verified by a medical professional and the patient is in their care the a MRI or CT scan of the brain is taken to identify the size and location of the bleed in the brain. If the bleed is tiny then surgery may not be necessary and you will be given some medication to help dissolve any clots and then begin the recovery process. However, if the bleed is substantial then a surgeon will need to perform a craniotomy (brain surgery) to remove the newly hematoma and stop the source of the bleeding.
If the cause of the bleeding was not through trauma then is likely that the patient will be at risk from further problems until the source is identified and will have to be monitored closely to avoid further problems.
Ischemic strokes are harder to identify as the clotted artery could be at any point in the length of the patients artery. To identify the blockage the patient would be injected with a contract die and then scanned which would then make clear where the blockage was as the rest of the artery would be dark instead of highlighted with the contrast die.
To remove the clot from the artery the patient may be given some medication to dissolve the clot quickly to restore blood flow or a surgeon may need to go in through keyhole surgery and physically remove the clot.
When the patient begins to recover they may need to be put on anti-coagulants to thin their blood which would help in preventing any underlying clotting issues that could create further bleeds. Anti-coagulant medications include Warfarin and Heparin.
Complications and Prevention
Have a bleed on the brain and the surgery to correct it is very dangerous. Both of these events can cause permanent damage to the brain. Complications include:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating or speaking
Prevention for these bleeds requires tight control over any conditions or medications that increases the risk and always wearing the correct safety equipment when performing an activity that present head trauma as a risk.
If you are in any doubt that you are at risk for a stroke in the future then you should make an appointment to see your primary care provider to assess you current health and design a regime to help reduce any strong indicators. By doing this you will being giving yourself a little bit of insurance that should you suffer a stroke you have already taken steps to reduce the amount of damage that can be done.
This HubPage is for informational uses only and should not replace the attention of your health care provider.