What is a Stroke? What help is available?
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds, or when there’s a blockage in the blood supply to the brain. The rupture or blockage prevents blood and oxygen from reaching the brain’s tissues.
The cause of a stroke depends on the type of stroke. The three main types of Stroke are: transient ischemic attack (TIA), ischemic stroke, and haemorrhagic stroke.
- A TIA is caused by a temporary blockage in an artery that leads to the brain. The blockage, typically a blood clot, stops blood from flowing to certain parts of the brain. A TIA typically lasts for a few minutes up to a few hours, and then the blockage moves, and blood flow is restored.
- Like a TIA, an ischemic stroke is caused by a blockage in an artery that leads to the brain. This blockage may be a blood clot, or it may be caused by atherosclerosis. With this condition, plaque (a fatty substance) builds up on the walls of a blood vessel. A piece of the plaque can break off and lodge in an artery, blocking the flow of blood and causing an ischemic stroke.
- A haemorrhagic stroke, on the other hand, is caused by a burst or leaking blood vessel causing pressure and damaging brain cells. There are two possible causes of a haemorrhagic stroke. An aneurysm (a weakened, bulging section of a blood vessel) can be caused by high blood pressure and can lead to a burst blood vessel. Less often, a condition called an arteriovenous malformation, which is an abnormal connection between your veins and arteries, can lead to bleeding in the brain. Read more about the causes of different types of strokes.
Several medications are used to treat strokes. The type your doctor prescribes depends largely on the type of stroke you had. The goal of some medications is to prevent a second stroke, while others aim to prevent a stroke from happening in the first place.
The most common stroke medications include:
This emergency medication can be provided during a stroke to break up a blood clot causing the stroke. It’s the only medication currently available that can do this, but it must be given within 3 to 4.5 hours after symptoms of a stroke begin. This drug is injected into a blood vessel so the medication can start to work as quickly as possible, which reduces the risk of complications from the stroke.
Therapies and Support
as a treatment for ischemic stroke promotes the growth and development of tissue in the central nervous system, regulates cerebral blood flow in the ischemic area, and improves long-term memory after a stroke. Additionally, studies have found that acupuncture may have beneficial psychological effects on patients after they had a stroke, lowering the risk for depression.
is an ancient Chinese tradition that involves a series of slow movements and stretches coupled with deep breathing. The body and mind work together to perform coordinated movements by focusing on each posture as it flows to the next. Research shows that the practice can help stroke patients improve balance, too. who suffered from neurological disorders and found that tai chi was effective in reducing fall incidences in both Parkinson’s disease and stroke.
Oxygen Therapy can lead to significant improvement in brain function in post stroke patients even at chronically late stages, helping neurons strengthen and build new connections in damaged regions. Oxygen therapy works by improving blood flow to a stroke patient’s damaged brain tissues. The area of dead brain tissue resulting from a lack of blood supply is known as an infarct. The ability of a stroke victim to recover using hyperbaric oxygen depends on several factors: the infarct size and location and the condition of the penumbra (the area between dead tissues and the non-impacted brain). Severe brain infarctions cause swelling that also intensifies pressure on the remaining viable brain tissue.
Oxygen therapy floods blood plasma, lymph fluids and cerebrospinal fluid (the clear, watery fluid that fills the brain and spine) with pure oxygen at higher-than-normal atmospheric pressures. The body receives 1,500 to 2,000 times the O2 concentration it would when a person breathes in normal room air. This brings down brain swelling and provides crucial nutrients to oxygen-starved brain matter, muscle, and bone. In many cases, with a series of hyperbaric oxygen treatments, stroke victims’ function improves. Dormant cells in the penumbra become reactivated, and new capillaries also form in the area. These capillaries increase both blood flow and nutrients and carry away cellular waste.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.