A stroke or stroke is an acute disease of the brain, in which a sudden blockage or bleeding in the blood vessels of the brain usually causes a lack of oxygen supply. A stroke is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention.
What is a stroke?
A stroke, or stroke, is a severe malfunction and sudden disease of the brain. Above all, the oxygen supply to the brain is interrupted. There are two main types of stroke.
On the one hand, the oxygen supply can be interrupted by insufficient cerebral blood flow (ischemia) and, on the other hand, direct bleeding in the brain (haemorrhage) can also be responsible for a stroke. Due to the lack of oxygen, the brain cannot work normally and nerve cells die within ten to fifteen minutes. See biotionary for What does Huriez Syndrome stand for.
Stroke is more common in older people. Most of those affected are over 70 years old. Due to the consequences of the stroke, most patients are mentally or physically handicapped after the stroke. The longer the time after a stroke until acute treatment, the greater the need for care of those affected is usually afterwards.
As already mentioned, the causes of a stroke are defective cerebral blood flow (ischemia), which is usually caused by hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis) or an embolism. Above all, the fat deposits that have accumulated in the blood vessels cause the vessels to become narrower, so that less and less blood can flow through them. There comes a point when too little or no blood reaches the brain and therefore no more oxygen can be transported from the lungs to the brain. Patients at risk are primarily those with diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
Another cause of stroke is direct bleeding in the brain (haemorrhage), which leads to an embolism or blood clot. Here, the blood clot (thrombus) coagulates in the blood vessels and the blood, in turn, cannot guarantee the transport of oxygen to the brain.
The final cause is the so-called cerebral hemorrhage (haemorrhagic infarction), which occurs in 1/4 of all strokes. The cerebral hemorrhage is caused by a tearing or rupture of blood vessels in the brain. Here, too, patients with high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus and high cholesterol levels are particularly affected.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The symptoms of a stroke are very varied. For example, sudden unilateral paralysis or loss of strength for which there is no other cause can indicate a stroke. The paralysis typically occurs in the arm and/or leg. People who have had a stroke may also experience numbness in their arms, legs, and face.
A drooping corner of the mouth is always a warning sign. A stroke can also cause various visual disturbances. Patients have blurred vision, limited vision, or double vision. In more severe cases, it can even cause temporary blindness.
If the language center in the brain is affected by the lack of oxygen, the patients speak slurred. They keep repeating the same words or syllables and/or make long pauses while speaking. A complete loss of speech is also possible. In addition to these language disorders, there may also be disorders of the ability to express oneself.
Those affected can no longer name certain objects or express themselves in an absolutely meaningless manner. In addition to these symptoms, sudden onset of loss of balance and dizziness and loss of consciousness may indicate a stroke. Sudden and almost unbearable headaches are another symptom of a stroke.
Course of the disease
The course of a stroke is largely dependent on the severity and damage caused by cerebral hemorrhage and blood clots.
If the stroke was discovered and treated in good time, serious complications can be avoided. It is therefore always advisable to call the emergency doctor in suspected cases of risk patients in order to ensure rapid medical help.
From this point of view, the course of the disease must be assessed individually by the extent of the stroke. The course can range from hardly noticeable symptoms to an absolute need for care and being bedridden.
Above all, the speech disorders and paralysis have a lasting effect on the further life of the person concerned. Most brain damage caused by stroke is still irreversibly damaged today and cannot be cured.
A stroke can have serious complications, including death. Severe motor impairments and functional disorders of the sensory organs usually arise as a result of the stroke. Typical are visual problems, hearing loss and balance problems. If the excretory organs are affected, it can lead to incontinence, urinary disorders, bowel obstruction and other complications.
Intellectual performance is usually also reduced – complications ranging from forgetfulness to dementia are possible. Being confined to bed can lead to pneumonia, bedsores, urinary tract infections and spasticity, among other things. Stiff joints, muscle wasting and epilepsy can also occur. Finally, a stroke can cause aphasia. In the case of stroke therapy, the drugs used in particular can cause complications.
Blood thinners rarely cause allergic reactions. Occasionally there is reddening of the skin, itching and burning. Painkillers and anti-inflammatories are also not free from side effects and interactions. Typical are nausea and vomiting, skin reactions and rarely cardiovascular problems and kidney or liver damage. In the case of an acute stroke, infection or bleeding can occur during the operation. Wound healing disorders and other complications can occur after the procedure.
When should you go to the doctor?
Nowadays, the risk of stroke continues to rise. Many people have a stroke at a young age. The most important question is when to see a doctor. First, it should be noted that the slightest sign of a stroke is important and should not be ignored. If signs that point to this disease occur more often and restrict the affected person in everyday life, a doctor should definitely be consulted.
But it is not always necessary to see a specialist. Symptoms that indicate a stroke can often have completely different causes. The first thing to do is to see your family doctor so that other diagnoses can be ruled out. If he agrees that a specialist examination is advisable, he will issue a referral. The neurologist is the right contact if there are signs of a stroke. He ensures that certain examinations are carried out in order to make the correct diagnosis. If symptoms that could indicate a stroke occur frequently, a specialist should be consulted immediately.
Treatment & Therapy
Treatment or therapy for stroke should be initiated as soon as possible. The longer the brain is without oxygen, the more nerve cells die and the brain can no longer be healed. If a stroke occurs, it must be reported to an emergency doctor immediately.
The treatment of a stroke always strives to keep the damage caused by the lack of oxygen as low as possible. Nevertheless, the therapy depends on the cause of the stroke. This is first determined by the emergency doctor and then in the hospital.
If a blood clot is the cause, drugs are immediately given to break up the blood blockage. The doctor will also try to rule out a cerebral hemorrhage. Today, this can be done with the help of computed tomography (CT). Brain bleeding usually requires neurosurgical intervention as soon as possible to stop the bleeding. Any bruises should also be removed. In addition, all vital functions are monitored so that sudden death can be prevented.
The subsequent long-term therapy for stroke primarily includes the treatment of motor disorders such as speech disorders and paralysis. Above all, rehabilitation is the focus of treatment in order to give the person concerned a dignified life as far as possible.
Stroke can be prevented. However, this must be done as early as possible and for a lifetime. This includes above all low-fat food, a lot of exercise and sport, little stress, no smoking and excessive drinking of alcohol. Too much sweet food should also be avoided. Likewise, a frequent examination by the doctor can provide possible warnings in good time.
Good follow-up care after a stroke is crucial to regaining physical and mental abilities. Which measures are necessary and useful depends on the severity of the stroke and the impairment it causes. The acute treatment in the hospital should be immediately followed by rehabilitation in a specialist clinic: This can reduce the consequences of the stroke, while at the same time the patient learns to cope with everyday life with unavoidable permanent restrictions.
Physiotherapy, which improves mobility and perception of the affected side of the body and thus motor skills, is very important. During occupational therapy, everyday activities such as getting dressed, eating or household chores are practiced. The patient is also trained in the use of aids with the help of which he can cope better with his everyday life.
The aim of speech therapy is to reduce language, speech and swallowing disorders and thereby restore the affected person’s ability to communicate and eat independently as much as possible. Neuropsychological rehabilitation is advisable for memory disorders, attention deficits and for the emotional stabilization of the patient.
After the rehabilitation measure, blood pressure and blood values should be checked regularly by the family doctor and, if necessary, adjusted with medication. In many cases, further outpatient physiotherapy, ergotherapy and speech therapy make sense. Effective follow-up care also includes eliminating risk factors such as smoking or being overweight.
You can do that yourself
A stroke is a medical crisis that requires immediate emergency medical attention. Those affected should seek medical help at the first sign. Self-help measures are only indicated during convalescence.
A stroke is often accompanied by damage to the brain, which severely limits the ability of those affected to speak. In this case, patients should learn to speak again as early as possible with the help of a speech therapist. Stamina and patience are required here. Without the patient’s dedicated cooperation, there is hardly any improvement here. Motor skills are often impaired after a stroke. In this case, physiotherapeutic and ergotherapeutic measures help the patient to improve their motor skills again and finally be able to do everyday activities themselves again.
Patients often suffer severely psychologically as a result of the physical impairment. This applies in particular if the previously practiced job has to be given up as a result of the stroke. Patients usually cope better with this emotional trauma if they talk to other affected people. There are now numerous self-help groups both locally and online. In larger cities, there are even so-called stroke guides who help those affected to cope with the radically changed life situation.