BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Global Health: Stroke



Stroke is a medical emergency which occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted, denying brain tissues oxygen and nutrients. In this situation, brain cells begin to die in a few minutes. It is important to take immediate action when stroke occurs so as to reduce brain damage and associated possible complications. This is because the longer stroke goes untreated, the greater the potential for brain damage and disability.

Thankfully, stroke is both preventable and treatable. Some symptoms associated with stroke include:
• Slurring of speech, difficulties communicating and comprehending
• Paralysis on one side of the body including face and some body parts
• Blurred vision in one or both eyes
• Sudden severe headache accompanied by vomiting and dizziness
• Loss of balance or coordination.

Causes of stroke include blockage of an artery and leakage or bursting of a blood vessel. In addition, some people experience a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain which does not cause permanent brain damage.

Types of stroke depend on the causes and they include:
Ischemic stroke: Most strokes- up to 80%, fall into this category. They occur when the arteries to the brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow (ischemia). Forms of Ischemic stroke include Thrombotic and Embolic strokes.
Hemorrhagic stroke: This type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or ruptures. Brain hemorrhages result from many conditions that affect the blood vessels including hypertension, blood thinning and aneurysm. Form of hemorrhagic stroke include Intracerebral hemorrhage and Subarachnoid hemorrhage.
Transient ischemic attack (TIA): TIA- sometimes referred to as a mini-stroke, is caused by a brief decrease in blood supply to the brain lasting as short as five minutes. Similar to ischemic stroke, TIA occurs when a clot or debris blocks blood flow to part of the nervous system but there is no permanent tissue damage and no lasting symptoms. Having a TIA increases the risk of having a full-blown stroke, causing permanent damage later.

Risk factors for stroke include:
• Lifestyle factors such as physical inactivity, smoking, obesity, alcohol and drug abuse.
• Medical factors such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, sleep apnea, heart problems and personal or family history of stroke.
• Other factors such as age, race and gender.

Stroke prevention strategies focus on general, healthy lifestyle recommendations which include:
• Controlling high blood pressure (hypertension)
• Lowering the amount of cholesterol and saturated fat in your diet
• Quitting tobacco use
• Controlling diabetes
• Maintaining a healthy weight
• Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
• Exercising regularly
• Drinking alcohol in moderation, if at all
• Treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
• Avoiding illicit drugs

Preventive medications such as anti-platelets and anti- coagulants may be recommended and prescribed by a doctor to prevent the recurrence of a stroke.

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