Understanding Ischemic Stroke: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment
Ischemic stroke is caused by a blocked or narrowed artery leading to the brain. It is also called brain ischemia and cerebral ischemia.
Our brain is an essential organ that requires hormones, minerals, and nutrients to function properly. Oxygen, an essential gas, is used by brain cells to perform at their best. A stroke prevents blood and oxygen from reaching the brain's tissues.
Heart diseases are on the rise among young and old alike. The more you know about heart disease, the better you can prepare and prevent it from happening to you or your loved ones.
Let's understand all about Ischemic Stroke...
What is it?
A stroke is a medical condition caused by the interruption of blood flow to the brain, either due to a rupture or blockage in the blood vessels. Ischemic stroke is a subtype of stroke that happens when clots or plaques block an artery, which leads to a decreased or compromised supply of oxygen and other essential nutrients to the brain.
How many people have it?
It is difficult to estimate the exact number of people who have strokes in India as it can be caused by different factors and have different severities. However, strokes are a type of heart disease, and India has a high prevalence of heart disease.
India accounts for one-fifth of the total deaths caused by heart disease worldwide, particularly among the younger population. According to a study, the death rate from heart disease in India is 272 per 100,000 people, which is higher than the global average of 235 per 100,000 people.
How does it occur?
Ischemic stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is compromised, typically due to the formation of plaques in the blood vessels. These plaques can form clots or blockages that restrict the flow of oxygen and other essential nutrients to the brain.
The process of clot formation is known as thrombosis, but ischemic stroke can also occur via other mechanisms. One such mechanism is lacunar stroke, which happens when there is a blockage in a small blood vessel due to factors such as hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), or hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol).
What are the risk factors?
A stroke is a serious event, but it is not always unpredictable. There are certain risk factors that can increase a person's likelihood of experiencing a stroke. These risk factors include:
A diet high in salt, trans fats, and saturated fats
Excessive alcohol consumption
Use of tobacco in any form
Family history or genetic predisposition to heart disease
Individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and sedentary lifestyle are also at a higher risk of stroke.
Some of these risk factors are modifiable, such as dietary changes, cessation of smoking and limiting alcohol consumption, and others are non-modifiable, such as age and family history.
What are the symptoms?
Ischemic stroke has a variety of symptoms that can be used to identify it. To better understand the disease, it is important to be familiar with these symptoms. The symptoms of Ischemic stroke include:
Slurred speech or difficulty communicating
Lack of responsiveness or consciousness
Sudden changes in behavior or confusion
Numbness or weakness in the limbs, face or tongue
Loss of balance or coordination
Vision disturbance in one or both eyes,
Severe headache with no known cause
Not all individuals will experience all of these symptoms and some may have mild symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a stroke, it is important to seek medical attention immediately as time is of the essence in stroke management.
How to prevent Ischemic Stroke?
Preventing Ischemic stroke is an important step in maintaining good heart health. There are several ways to reduce the risk of stroke, including lifestyle changes and medications. Here are some steps you can take to prevent Ischemic stroke:
Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption.
Adopt a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, nuts and vegetables
Get regular physical activity, such as resistance training
If you have diabetes, it is important to manage it through diet, exercise and medication
Control your high blood pressure and cholesterol level, through medication if needed
Manage stress and depression
Maintain a healthy weight
It's important to work with your doctor/healthcare provider to develop a stroke prevention plan that is right for you. If you have any risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or smoking, make sure to address them as soon as possible.
How to treat Ischemic Stroke?
Ischemic stroke can be treated with a combination of medications and surgery. The goal of treatment is to reduce the amount of plaque or coagulants in the blood vessels. Some common treatment options include:
Direct-acting anticoagulants: These medications reduce the ability of blood to clot and remove plaques.
Anti-platelet drugs: These medications prevent blood platelets from sticking together, which can help reduce the risk of stroke.
Statins: These medications lower blood cholesterol levels and prevent strokes.
Mechanical thrombectomy: In this procedure, blood clots are mechanically removed through devices such as catheters.
Stent placement: In this procedure, a stent is used to open up a narrowed artery, allowing for more blood flow and supporting the walls of the blood vessels.
The choice of treatment will depend on the individual's condition, and the time since the onset of symptoms. In some cases, the best treatment may be to do nothing except supportive care and wait for the body to resolve the clot on its own.
Work closely with a medical professional to develop the best treatment plan for you. The earlier a stroke is treated, the better the chances of recovery.
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