Friday, 1 July 2011

What is a stroke?

What is a stroke?
A stroke or “brain attack” occurs when the vessels supplying blood to the brain are blocked, interrupting the blood flow. This results in the death of the brain cells. Depending on the area of the brain involved and the extent of brain cell death, the specific body functions such as speech, movement or memory may be affected.

The symptoms of stroke are loss of consciousness, numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, confusion and difficulty in speaking or understanding, problem in vision, dizziness, loss of balance and coordination, headache and vomiting.

A quick neurological examination is the first step. The symptoms are assessed and certain blood tests may be carried out. An electrocardiogram and CT scan may also be done. MRI may be advised to detect subtle changes in the brain. Neurosurgeons may advise an MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) to detect blockage of the brain arteries inside the skull.

Smoking causes deposition of fatty deposits in the blood vessels, which slow down the blood flow and resulting in stroke.

Lowering blood pressure has been conclusively shown to prevent both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes. Studies show that intensive antihypertensive therapy results in a greater risk reduction. High cholesterol levels have been inconsistently associated with (ischemic) stroke. If you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, follow your doctor's treatment recommendations.

Limit the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet. Try to avoid trans fat entirely

Frequent and regular physical exercise or activities boost the immune system, and helps prevent the risk of heart disease and stroke.

If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar under control. Diabetes causes the small vessels to close prematurely. Good control of blood sugar is important in decreasing the risk of stroke in people with diabetes.

If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation.

Being overweight or obese are also risk factors for heart disease or stroke. So, you should eat healthy and do exercise regularly to maintain weight.

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