The effects, symptoms and treatment of stroke
Many people are familiar with stroke, knowing at least one person who has suffered the condition. Primarily affecting the brain, stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is impeded. This can be caused by a blood clot or a burst blood vessel. When blood doesn't reach the brain, neurons don't receive oxygen and begin to die, which leads to brain damage.
Complications of stroke can include paralysis, loss of memory, loss of speech and loss of vision, among others. Depending on the severity of the stroke and when treatment is received, the effects can be temporary or permanent. Many stroke sufferers go through long periods of rehabilitation to regain their functions.
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Symptoms of Strokes
Of the list of stroke symptoms, left-sided stroke symptoms are the most commonly known—weakness or numbing sensation on the left arm, leg and left side of the face is believed to be one of the strongest pre-stroke symptoms. Aside from left-side issues, the stroke symptom list includes (but isn't limited to):
- Difficulty speaking and understanding speech
- Vision dimness or loss, often in one eye
- Dizziness and instability
Mini-strokes are strokes that are shorter in duration, can cause the same symptoms for a brief period of time, and can occur frequently. The mini-stroke symptom list is similar to that of a regular stroke, but less severe.
Stroke treatment is most effective when it occurs early on, so it's important to recognize the early warning signs. When the brain is deprived of oxygen, even for a short time, serious consequences can occur. If you believe you are having a stroke, seek emergency help immediately.
Immediate treatment for stroke may include medications that can help break up blood clots to allow blood to flow normally. Anticoagulants are also used, though they do not actually break up blood clots—instead, they hamper the blood's ability to continue clotting to prevent further buildup.
In the long run, stroke treatment will include antiplatelet medication and continued use of anticoagulants to prevent blood clots from redeveloping. Medication may also be prescribed to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.