Stroke (Brain Attack): Types, Causes, Signs, Symptoms
A stroke, also known as a brain attack, occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted due to the blockage or rapture in arteries or blood vessels which prevent the brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients, leading to brain cell death in a matter of minutes. Without prompt treatment or early action, it may lead to brain damage, disabilities and other fatal complications. Depending upon the cause and site of the stroke along with the degree of damage that occurs within the brain, stroke is largely categorised into 2 types. This will also determine the variations in impairment experienced by the stroke patient in movement, memory, speech and thought process as well as paralysis and death in severe cases.
Types & Causes of Stroke (Brain Attack)
There are 3 types of stroke (brain attack), based on the cause:
Ischemic stroke: Known to be the most common, this type of stroke occurs when the arteries in the brain are blocked or narrowed, leading to a severely reduced blood flow (ischema). This blockage is caused due to the build-up of fatty deposits and plaque or by blood clots or any other debris in the bloodstream.
Much like ischemic stroke is a transient ischemic attack, commonly known as ministroke, which is caused by a temporary decrease in the blood supply in a part of your brain or the nervous system that does not cause permanent damage but increases your risk of having a full-blown stroke later.
Hemorrhagic stroke: Comparatively lesser common, this type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or ruptures. The causes of this may include uncontrolled high blood pressure, overuse of blood thinners and protein deposits in the blood vessel walls that weaken and cause it to rupture (cerebral amyloid angiopathy), blood vessel bursts due to trauma, aneurysms wherein bulges at weak spots in the blood vessel walls cause its leakage or even ischemic stroke leading to hemorrhage.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or mini stroke: It is a temporary condition caused by the blockage of blood supply to the brain. Hard to identify, here the symptoms are quick and it can completely go away within a few hours.
Signs & symptoms of stroke (brain attack)
The major symptoms of stroke include sudden numbness, drooping or weakness of one side of the face, arm or impairment in speech. Besides some of the common signs listed below, our experts’ advice on the quickest way to identify a stroke is to recognise the symptom F.A.S.T.-
F- Face drooping: Check if the smile on your face is even on both sides or one side of the face droops.
A- Arm Weakness: Check if one arm uncontrollably drifts downward when you raise both hands together.
S- Speech Difficulty: Check if you slur your speech or are unable to speak fluently, comprehend or repeat simple sentences.
T- Time to call hospital: On recognising flaw in any of these, call an ambulance immediately. Headache- A sudden, severe headache with impaired consciousness may signal stroke. Trouble walking- Loss of balance and inability to walk normally due to loss of coordination or sudden dizziness.
Impaired sight- Problem seeing with one or both eyes
Other symptoms of stroke (brain attack) include:
- Light-headedness, dizziness or nausea
- Loss of balance
- Blurred or loss of vision either in one or both eyes
- Weakness, tingling or numbness in one side of the body
- Difficulty in talking or understanding speech
- Sudden confusion or serious headache
Risk factors of stroke (brain attack)
The risk factors for stroke are many, almost half of which can be controlled by lifestyle discipline. We have listed here some of the most common ones for you-
- – People aged 55 or older are at a higher risk
- – Family history of stroke or transient ischemic attack
- – Being overweight or obese
- – Physical inactivity
- – Excessive intake of alcohol and drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine – High blood pressure
- – Smoking or second-hand smoke exposure
- – High cholesterol
- – Diabetes
- – Cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, heart defects, heart infection – COVID-19 infection
- – Men have a higher risk of stroke than women
- – Uncontrolled use of estrogen
Steps to be taken in case of a stroke (brain attack)
If one shows symptoms or suffers from a brain stroke, immediate help should be sought even in case of mild symptoms because it can cause severe damage or disability to the sufferer. It only takes several minutes for the brain cells to die. Therefore, immediate help or certain precautionary methods can help in saving a person’s life. The step-by-step guide for first-aid in case of a brain stroke is as follows:
1) If a person appears to be having a stroke, the first step is to confirm the situation by analysing the symptoms through the FAST acronym.
2) If it is a stroke, one should immediately call for medical help and an ambulance.
3) Until the ambulance arrives, ensure that the person is in a safe place.
4) Be calm and keep talking to the person. Ask for his/her personal information like name, address, etc. (if the person is unknown). If s/he is unable to speak, ask him/her to answer by signs such as pressing your hand as a gesture to an answer. If s/he doesn’t respond still, the person might be unconscious.
5) Gently place him/her in a comfortable situation with the body lying to the side and the head & shoulders slightly raised and supported with a pillow, in case of vomit.
6) If the person is unconscious, place him/her in a recovery position by placing one arm at right angle to the body and the other arm across the chest. One leg should remain straight and the other should be bent at the knee.
7) Check if s/he is cold. Cover with a warm blanket, if needed.
8) Check if the person is breathing or not by lifting his/her chin or head back to see if the chest is moving or listen for any breathing sound(s) in case the person is unconscious. Likewise, place a finger over his/her nose or mouth to feel the breath. If there is no sign of breathing, perform CPR immediately.
9) In case the person is having difficulty in breathing, loosen any tight clothing in case of a buttoned shirt, collars or scarves, ties, etc.
10) If the person is conscious, tell him/her to keep calm and assure that help is on the way.
11) Keep noticing the person’s symptoms and attentively observe if any changes occur.
12) Try to keep track of time and remember the time during which the symptoms persisted or started.
13) Remove any blockage in the mouth or nose manually, if necessary.
14) If the person is unable to move any limb or shows signs of weakness in moving them, ask him/her to stay calm and not to move that limb.
15) Don’t give the person anything to eat or drink.
16) On arrival of medical help, don’t forget to tell the paramedics about the person’s symptoms and when they started.
17) It is also important to tell the emergency personnel if the person fell or hit his/her head during the stroke.
18) If known, please provide the required details of any medication that the person suffering from brain stroke has been taking.
After the first aid, the person should be taken to the hospital immediately. There, the doctors will perform several tests and exams such as MRI or CT scan to know the exact cause and nature of the stroke and thus start the required treatment on the basis of the diagnosis.
The treatments for stroke include medication, physical and speech therapy and surgery in case of severe cases. As the complications are related to the brain, the recovery time may be long and draining in some cases. Therefore, rehabilitation and encouragement and a supporting as well as caring system can aid speedy recovery.
Brain strokes can lead to various disabilities or severe damage if not administered within 4.5 hours. Therefore, quick and speedy intervention is vital instead of waiting and watching.
Diagnosis of stroke (brain attack)
After our emergency team rules out other causes and determines the type of stroke you are having, our specialists will immediately run the following tests in order to give you the best and fastest treatment:
Physical exam: Checking of your heartbeat and blood pressure followed by a neurological exam to check how far your nervous system is affected.
Blood tests: To check your sugar level, how fast your blood clots, or for any infection.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): An imaging test that uses powerful radio-waves and magnets to create a detailed view of your brain to detect brain tissues damaged by an ischemic stroke and brain hemorrhage.
Computerized Tomography (CT) scan: This uses a series of X-rays to create a detailed image of your brain in order to detect bleeding in the brain or signs of ischemic stroke and tumour.
Carotid Ultrasound: Here, sound waves are used to create detailed images of the insides of the carotid arteries in your neck to check for build-up of blockage causing fatty deposits.
Cerebral angiogram: A thin, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted through a small incision, usually in your groin and through your major arteries. Your doctor will then inject a dye into your blood vessels to make the arteries visible under X-ray imaging.
Echocardiogram: Sound waves are used to create detailed images of your heart. This can be then used to detect any blood clot in the heart that may have travelled to your brain and caused your stroke.
Whom to consult for stroke (brain attack)?
Depending upon the type and amount of damage done to the brain, every person’s stroke recovery may be different. Our team at the Centre for Neurology & Neurosurgery at Yashoda Hospital & Research Centre, Nehru Nagar, Ghaziabad is here is give you the best personalised treatment for all complex cases related to stroke. At Yashoda, we are equipped to provide you with excellent remediation facilities for any impairment and highly experienced staff to assist you towards efficient recovery and rehabilitation, regardless of your age or condition, at our Centre for Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine.
Best Doctor or Hospitals for Stroke (Brain Attack) Treatment In Delhi NCR & Ghaziabad
For immediate help in Ghaziabad and Delhi NCR with brain stroke cases, Yashoda Hospital & Research Centre, Nehru Nagar, Ghaziabad is the best with its experienced and prominent team of neurologists and physiotherapists. We provide immediate help to any such patient, 24/7.
For any query on stroke and its treatment, please reach out to us on our official website www.yashodahealthcare.com or book an appointment with our most experienced Neurologist specialists Dr. Atul Gupta, Dr. Neeraj Agrawal, Dr. Puneet Malik, Dr. Rakesh Kumar and Dr. Vimal Kumar Agarwal by calling us on 09810922042.