Stroke occurs when the supply of blood to the brain is either interrupted or reduced. When this happens, the brain does not get enough oxygen or nutrients which causes brain cells to die.A stroke may be caused by a blocked artery (ischemic stroke) or the leaking or bursting of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). Some people may experience only a temporary disruption of blood flow to their brain (transient ischemic attack, or TIA).
Watch for these signs and symptoms if you think you or someone else may be having a stroke. Note when your signs and symptoms begin, because the length of time they have been present may guide your treatment decisions:
- Trouble with speaking and understanding.
- Paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg.
- Trouble with seeing in one or both eyes.
- Trouble with walking.
About 85 percent of strokes are ischemic strokes. Ischemic strokes occur when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow (ischemia).
Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in your brain leaks or ruptures. Brain hemorrhages can result from many conditions that affect your blood vessels, including uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension), overtreatment with anticoagulants and weak spots in your blood vessel walls (aneurysms).
Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
A transient ischemic attack (TIA) — also known as a ministroke — is a brief period of symptoms similar to those you’d have in a stroke. A temporary decrease in blood supply to part of your brain causes TIAs, which often last less than five minutes.
Like an ischemic stroke, a TIA occurs when a clot or debris blocks blood flow to part of your brain. A TIA doesn’t leave lasting symptoms because the blockage is temporary.
Many factors can increase your risk of a stroke. Some factors can also increase your chances of having a heart attack. Potentially treatable stroke risk factors include:
Lifestyle risk factors
- Being overweight or obese
- Physical inactivity
- Heavy or binge drinking
- Use of illicit drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines
Medical risk factors
- High blood pressure — the risk of stroke begins to increase at blood pressure readings higher than 120/80 (mm Hg). Your doctor will help you decide on a target blood pressure based on your age, whether you have diabetes and other factors.
- Cigarette smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke.
- High cholesterol.
- Obstructive sleep apnea — a sleep disorder in which the oxygen level intermittently drops during the night.
- Cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, heart defects, heart infection or abnormal heart rhythm.
Other factors associated with a higher risk of stroke include:
- Personal or family history of stroke, heart attack or transient ischemic attack.
- Being age 55 or older.
- Gender — Men have a higher risk of stroke than women. Women are usually older when they have strokes, and they’re more likely to die of strokes than are men. Also, they may have some risk from some birth control pills or hormone therapies that include estrogen, as well as from pregnancy and childbirth
A stroke can sometimes cause temporary or permanent disabilities, depending on how long the brain lacks blood flow and which part was affected. Complications may include:
- Paralysis or loss of muscle movement.
- Difficulty talking or swallowing.
- Memory loss or thinking difficulties.
- Emotional problems.
- Changes in behavior and self-care ability.
Immediately patient should be taken to the hospital to prevent further damage, The better it is, the fast a treatment is given to the patient.