Brain stroke which is also called a ‘brain attack’ or ‘Cerebrovascular accident’ is a syndrome of symptoms and signs of loss of cerebral function caused by disruption in the flow of blood to part of the brain. Brain stroke becomes fatal when it results from impaired oxygen delivery to brain cells via the bloodstream. It is reported that brain stroke is the number three killer of modern world. It is also the most common cause of disability and dependence with more than 70 percent of the stroke survivors. They become impaired, unable to do anything, and more than 40 percent of these survivors require assistance for their daily activities.
Risk factors of brain stroke
Most of the risk factors for brain attack are the same as those that cause heart attack. The narrowed blood vessels in the brain disrupt the blood supply to the brain. The risk factors of brain stroke include high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, diabetes, over consumption of alcohol and smoking.
Symptoms of brain stroke
The nature and severity of symptoms depend on how much area of the brain is affected because of the blood supply to the brain, whether is completely or partially blocked. Generally the following symptoms are observed.
1) Sudden onset of numbness
Sudden numbness or weakness in face or arm is a common symptom of brain stroke. But it can also be experienced in leg, especially on one side of the body.
2) Loss of voluntary movement
There may be loss of voluntary movement and sensation and the loss may be complete or partial.
3) Tingling sensation in the affected area
The loss of voluntary movement may be associated with a tingling feeling in the affected area.
4) Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance
Walking will be affected and the person may feel dizzy and weak. His balance or coordination in walking may not be steady.
5) Trouble in seeing
There may be some trouble in seeing including double vision, blurred vision or partial blindness. This may be experienced in one or both eyes.
6) Sudden and severe headache with no known cause
One may experience sudden headache without any proper reason. The person may seem to be in a confused state, unable even to speak.
Main causes for brain stroke
1) The blockage of an artery in the brain by a clot, called thrombosis, is the most common cause of a brain stroke. Oxygen and blood cannot reach the part of the brain since it is deprived of supply by the clotted blood vessel. As a result of lack of oxygen and blood, the cells of that part of the brain die and the part of the body that it controls stops functioning.
2) Gradual narrowing of the blood vessel within the brain is caused by cholesterol plaque. This narrowing ruptures and starts the process of forming a small blood clot that results in brain stroke.
3) Disruption of oxygen supply, even for a short period of time, will affect the brain nerve cells and cause their death. Once the brain cells die, the part of the body that the section of the brain controls is affected through paralysis, and language, motor skills or vision are disturbed.
4) Rupture in the weakened area of the blood vessels causes bleeding and hemorrhagic stroke.
5) There are also mini-brain strokes known as transient ischemic attacks. They cause short stroke symptoms which go away after a few minutes. Usually people ignore these symptoms which are also equally risky.
6) People who have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol and heart disease are at higher level than the average risk level of brain stroke. People who suffered brain stroke once have increased risk level.
Reduce the risk level
The risk level of brain stroke can be decreased by following suitable life style changes. People who are at risk level can adapt a modified lifestyle with exercises and proper food. They should stop over consumption of alcohol and smoking. Periodical medications are necessary to reduce the risk.