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Everything You Need to Know About Stroke, Cerebrovascular Accident

The human brain has so many functions and has the ability to carry out multiple functions at the same time. Different parts of the brain are capable of controlling movements of our body. There are also areas controlling our sense of vision and our ability to talk.

The entire human body works in similar, though more advanced ways like the way machines work.  Let's use a motorcycle for instance, there are wires or cables connected from the engine to the peripheral of the bike.

The speed at which the bike moves is determined by the intensity of inputs or commands coming from the engine, through the wire, to the bearings or tires.

Anything that will affect the engine or the cables will create a fault. Definitely, the bike might fail to move or fail to run faster. This is a typical illustration of how the human brain controls the body's activities. The brain is synonymous to the bike's engine,  while our legs represent its bearings.

The parts of the brain that controls movements are the spinal cord, cerebellum, and the brain stem . The cerebrum then coordinates the functions of the other brain parts in movement. 

Not just that, the cerebrum also functions in our ability to talk and comprehend sounds, our vision and hearing ability. Therefore anything that goes wrong with the cerebrum will alter such physiological functions, this is what happens in stroke. 

If you have witnessed someone suffering from a stroke before, you will observe that stroke victims have speech difficulty, inability to understand what others are saying,  and difficulty in movements. 

Stroke occurs when a blood vessel conveying blood to the brain is blocked. This results in paralysis and loss of sensation.

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The cerebrum has two parts: the left and right hemispheres. Now, if you have a problem with the left hemisphere, the right side of your body is paralysed, another reverse happens when there's a blockage in blood supply to the right hemisphere of your brain or cerebrum.

It might be surprising to hear that, in some cases, if you serve food to someone suffering from a stroke on a plate, they will eat only the food on one side of the plate and leave the other. For example, someone who has problems with his/her left hemisphere will eat the food on the right side of the plate, leaving the left side. This explains that both sides of the cerebrum control the same varieties of functions; once one half is faulty, the function is only elicited on the opposite side and has no problem.

Types of stroke

Stroke occurs in two forms depending on what happens to the blood vessels, they are: ischemic, and haemorrhagic stroke.

Ischemic stroke: occurs when there is a blockage in the blood supply to the brain.

Haemorrhagic stroke: which occurs when there's rupture or leakage of a blood vessel.

In ischemic stroke, either the narrowing or total blockage of the blood vessels results in reduced oxygen and nutrients transported to the brain.

The blockage is caused by high consumption of fatty food or foods that contain a lot of low density lipoprotein. This is mostly common in obese individuals.

Ischemic stroke can still result in hemorrhagic stroke, other causes of hemorrhagic stroke may include untreated high blood pressure that have occurred for some time, accident, head trauma, or pulmonary embolism (blockage of one of the arteries supplying blood to the lungs).

Another form of stroke called Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is a mini-stroke caused by partial blockage of the blood vessels leading to the brain. It occurs only for some some few minutes and then goes off. Although it's recommended you consult your doctor if you notice any sign of stroke. Transient Ischemic stroke can result in hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke.

Generally, stroke can also be caused by physical or emotional stress. Older adults have higher risk of developing stroke due to reduction in vascular integrity of their blood vessels and other factors like hypertension.

Risk factors of stroke

One's tendency of developing stroke depends on two conditions: the kind of lifestyle you live, and medical factors.

Stroke occurs mostly in people with cases of chronic alcoholism and those who smoke a lot. Let's not forget that smoking increases carbon (iv) oxide levels in blood which adversely affects oxygen levels and its binding affinity to hemoglobin. Thus, resulting in hypertension, which is another risk factor for stroke.

In further consideration of the lifestyle causes of stroke, obesity can also cause stroke. It occurs when you consume a lot of junk foods and live a sedentary lifestyle, the excess nutrients in the consumed food then accumulate in the blood, thus increasing blood viscosity and perhaps, the ability to travel faster via the vessels. This obviously, results in rupture, partial, or total blockage of such vessels.

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Lack of exercise and drug abuse (e.g. cocaine and methamphetamine) increases the risk of developing stroke.

Under the medical risk of stroke, research shows that people with cases of Covid-19 are also prone to stroke.

You will contact stroke more easily if you come from a family with a history of stroke. However, this does not include strokes caused by the lifestyle of your parents or grandparents. 

Prevention factors of stroke 

As it is said, "prevention is better than cure". The health tips listed below can also serve as a remedy to those who already have stroke, especially Transient Ischemic Attack. 

Most of the health tips for stroke prevention are similar to those recommended for prevention of obesity and heart diseases. They include:

  • Regular exercise 
  • Do not take too much alcohol
  • Eat enough vegetables,  and fruits with less sugar.
  • Avoid drugs/substance abuse 
  • Control your  blood pressure level
  • Quit smoking 
  • Maintenance of a healthy body weight.

Complications of stroke

Stroke may result in either temporary or permanent complications like death, depending on the type, and extent to which the disorder occurs. The commonest complications include:

  • Brain damage or memory loss 
  • Speech problems 
  • Muscle paralysis 
  • Difficulty in swallowing 
  • Emotional problems such as depression
  • Pain or numbness in the affected area (e.g the arm)
  • Physical inactivity.

Treatments for stroke 

This masterpiece remains baseless if we spend all day talking about stroke as a global challenge without highlighting possible solutions to this life threatening disease. 

Apart from the remedies blended in the preventive measures above. Stroke can be treated by use of certain medications which your doctor will recommend. They include the use of anticoagulants or anti-platelet drugs such as aspirin, apixaban, warfarin, and clopidogrel.


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