Stroke-Acquired Brain Injury by Charles Watson
Posted on December 13, 2021
A stroke or brain attack is a non-traumatic brain injury and happens when the blood flow to the brain is stopped, and brain cells begin to die due to a lack of oxygen. The brain uses 20% of the oxygen you breathe and controls many body functions.
The two main kinds of strokes include Ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke.
- Ischemic is the most common type of stroke and happens when a major blood vessel is blocked due to cholesterol or fatty deposit called plaque.
- Hemorrhagic can be more serious when a blood vessel from the brain gets weakened or balloons up and leaks or bursts. The main reason for this can be high blood pressure or consuming too many blood thinners.
- A transient ischemic attack can also take place due to temporary blockage.
Treatable or medically manageable causes for stroke include
- High blood pressure: The leading cause of stroke is hypertension.
- Tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs: Smoking, drug abuse, and excessive drinking causes fatty build-up and thickens the blood, making it clot easily.
- Obesity and lack of exercise: These are significant causes of heart disease and diabetes, increasing stroke risk.
- Medications: Blood-thinning medicines, hormone therapy to treat menopause symptoms, and birth control pills can raise your chances of stroke.
Risk factors that cannot be treated or changed include
- Race: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, are much more prone to Sickle cell disease that can narrow arteries and internal blood flow.
- Gender: Women are less likely to suffer from a stroke than men, but women who suffer at an old age usually die from it—the chance of stroke doubles after 55.
- History of Prior Stroke and Heredity or Genetics: Family history and having a second stroke increase a person's stroke risk.
- Social and economic factors: Low-income group people are more prone to strokes.
- Temperature, climate, season, and area you live in affects the frequency of strokes in people living in extreme temperatures.
Diagnosis of a stroke
A healthcare provider, after doing a physical exam and taking your health history, will ask to undergo some tests. These includes:
- MRI: Uses magnetic field to find small changes in brain tissue to find and diagnose stroke.
- CT Scan: An X-ray to take detailed images of bleeding or damage to the brain cells caused by a stroke. It is used to find the location and type of stroke and abnormalities in the brain.
- MRA (Magnetic resonance angiography): Uses MRI technology to check the flow of blood flow through the arteries.
- CTA (Computed tomographic angiography): An X-ray image of the blood vessels that uses CT technology.
- Doppler Sonography (carotid ultrasound): This test uses sound waves to get pictures of the inside of the carotid arteries to detect blockage or narrowing due to plaque.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) and Echocardiography: ECG records your heart's electrical activity; irregular rhythms can cause a stroke. Echocardiography uses sound waves to show your heart's size and shape, check if the valves are working correctly, and check for clots inside your heart.
Treatment of stroke
A stroke should be treated as soon as possible. Emergency treatment can include:
- Clot-breaking medicines: thrombolytic or fibrinolytic medicines help dissolve blood clots that cause ischemic stroke. They can help reduce damage to brain cells and must be given within 3 hours of a stroke.
- Medicine to control brain swelling: Special intravenous fluids are used to help reduce and prevent brain swelling, used after a hemorrhagic stroke.
- Life support measures: Using a ventilator to help breathe, IV fluids, controlling blood pressure, and proper nutrition.
- Craniotomy: This brain surgery is done to remove blood clots, repair bleeding and relieve pressure in the brain.
- Medicine for neuroprotection: Helps protect the brain from lack of oxygen and damage.