Stroke-Acquired Brain Injury

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.