Health News of Monday, 4 January 2010
Stroke: By Akwele. (See reference below).
Stroke-also known as cerebro-vascular accident , (CVA) is an impairment of brain function. This results from impaired blood flow to the brain caused by obstruction such as plaque, blood clot , or both. It is the leading cause of death and disability in adults. When the brain cells are deprived of blood flow, they do not have oxygen and therefore, they die.
People at risk for stroke include those with family history of stroke, drug abuse, use of birth control pills in addition to smoking, heart disorders, sickle- cell anemia, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, high fat diet and excessive alcohol intake.
Signs and symptoms of a stroke depend on the extent of brain damage. They include: Double vision, headache, confusion, difficulty speaking, difficulty swallowing, one-sided weakness, numbness, difficulty walking, difficulty understanding and paralysis of one side or both sides of the body. At times, one might loose control of both the bowel and bladder and may not be able to tell when they need to use the bathroom, they may have “accidents,” as a result. This can be quite embarrassing for the person, to say the least.
The physician diagnoses the person by physical examination, blood work, electrocardiogram (EKG) – to check the rhythm of the heart and Computed tomography (CT SCAN) -to check for blood clot in the brain, amonst others. The prognosis for stroke depends to a large extent on the person’s health status before the stroke and the length of time between the stroke and treatment. This time is critical. The drug, tissue plasminogen activator, (tpa) may be given within the first three hours to dissolve blood clots to reverse effects of certain strokes. The long term recovery depends on the care received immediately after the stroke.
Once a person suffers a stroke, there is always a chance that they might suffer another one in future. Prevention of subsequent strokes is rather important. Some of the medications that may be prescribed by a physician to help prevent future strokes include good old aspirin. It helps to thin the blood, improve circulation, prevent blood clots that can cause a stroke. Again, one needs to have blood checked when on aspirin so it is coordinated with your physician because it has the tendency to make the blood too thin and can make one bleed easily if not monitored.
Many strokes can be prevented with life style modification. That is eat a healthy diet, cut down on saturated fats which are found in diet with ; cow foot, pig feet, animal fat, palm oil, coconut oil , these are but a few that are high in cholesterol and occlude or block our arteries and interfere with circulation of blood. Nicoteine in cigarettes constrict blood vessels and can lead to high blood pressure which left untreated can cause a stroke. We need to exercise to keep the blood flowing in order to prevent blood clots that can travel to the brain, obstruct blood vessels and cause a stroke. If one should experience any of the previously mentioned signs and symptoms, see a physician immediately. Stay healthy.
Reference: Lewis, Sharon M., Heitkember, M., & Dirksen, S. (2004) Medical-Surgical. 6th ed. St. Louis. MI: Mosby Inc