Strokes, popularly known as stroke , are part of cardiovascular diseases, which together are the leading cause of death in developed countries according to WHO data. It is therefore a very common and very serious problem that is often fatal or has serious consequences.
What is a stroke?
A cerebrovascular accident consists of the reduction or cessation of the blood supply to a part of the brain, thus stopping the latter from receiving the oxygen and nutrients necessary to continue functioning.
Because brain tissues begin to die within a few minutes in these conditions, it is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention, and in fact the prognosis depends largely on rapid detection and action.
They are produced by two main causes, and based on them the episode will develop in one way or another. When the cause is a blockage of an artery , it is called an ischemic stroke: this is the most common type of stroke, and it is usually due to the accumulation of fat (cholesterol) or clots (thrombi) in the artery walls.
On the other hand, when the cause is the rupture of an artery , we are facing a hemorrhagic stroke, and it can be caused by reasons such as excessive blood pressure, the use of certain anticoagulant medications, the appearance of aneurysms (weak points in the arterial wall ), trauma, cerebral amyloid angiopathy or even being the consequence of an ischemic stroke.
Finally, there is a specific typology called transient ischemic attack, in which the blockage of the artery is temporary and lasts short enough that permanent damage does not occur (usually less than five minutes). However, it should be noted that the remission of symptoms compatible with a stroke is never a reason to stop seeking urgent medical attention because it does not necessarily imply that it is a temporary accident.
What are your symptoms? And what complications can it cause?
Stroke symptoms can be very varied , depending on which area of the brain is affected. However, some of the common symptoms are loss of strength in one half of the body, slurred speech, confusion, loss of sensation or tingling in one half of the body, sudden loss of vision in one eye, and severe headache. and different from the usual.
Also depending on the affected area, along with the duration of the accident and the magnitude of the reduction in blood flow, the stroke can cause different temporary or permanent sequelae . These include paralysis (usually asymmetric), difficulty speaking or swallowing, memory loss, thinking difficulties, psychological disorders, pain, changes in behavior, and decreased ability to self-care.
How is it treated?
The treatment depends on the type of accident that the patient is suffering, but in any case it will be characterized by being urgent.
If the stroke is ischemic , emergency medications can be given intravenously, emergency endovascular procedures (usually by inserting a catheter from the groin into the brain to locally administer a drug or to remove the clot), perform carotid endarterectomy (removal of clots in the carotid) or angioplasty (insertion of a catheter from the groin to the carotid artery to inflate a balloon that expands the artery) with placement of a stent (device that keeps the artery open.
On the contrary, if it is hemorrhagic , drugs can be given to counteract the effects of anticoagulant drugs (if the patient takes them) or to reduce intracranial or arterial pressure, perform emergency surgeries, endovascular embolization (fill an aneurysm from an inserted catheter through the groin and guided to the brain), and treatment with stereotactic radiosurgery.
Subsequently, it will be necessary to monitor the patient’s condition for a few days and they will be provided with therapies that help to recover as many functions as possible, with a personalized rehabilitation program based on the patient’s condition and needs and wishes. This rehabilitation can include physical medicine, dietetics, physical therapy, occupational therapy, recreational therapy, speech therapy, social work, clinical psychology, and psychiatry.