First, WHAT is a Stroke ….
IN non-medical terms, a stroke is a consequence of damage to the brain cells due loss/ reduction in blood supply to them. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients which the brain cells need to survive. And loss of this blood supply could be due traumatic conditions ( such as an accident ), or progressively deteriorating medical situations such as “plaque” in the arteries supplying blood to the brain, for example. As plaque in an artery increases, it constricts the space available for blood to pass. Consequently, the speed of blood rushing past this plaque increases. And sometimes, portions of this plaque breakaway as ” clots” and travel up the brain to still narrower arteries. Ultimately, the blood supply to some areas of brain stops. And a stroke starts developing…. This is an “ Ischemic Stroke ” accounting for majority of the cases.
Within a few minutes of such a deprivation, brain cells start to die. And unlike most other cells in the body the brain cells are NOT regenerated ( attempts are underway, though no clear success is reported… )
We all “know” that the brain controls the body. The full extent of this control is, unfortunately, evidenced only after damage is underway / already done. And depending upon the areas being effected the symptoms vary. So does the duration.
The Most Common Stroke Symptoms
- Severe, unexplained headache.
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
- Confusion, disorientation, slurring and trouble in speaking.
- Facial twitches- maybe drooling.
- Trouble in seeing – double vision Trouble walking , keeping balance, dizziness
- Any unusual sensation which others nearby are not feeling – a smell or a sound for example.
If you suspect the above in someone near you, you can ask the person the following to arrive at a better conclusion :
FACE : Ask the person to smile – does one side of the face / lips droop ?
ARMS : Ask the person to raise both arms. Is one drifting downwards ?
SPEECH : Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the voice slurred ?
If any of above applies, a stroke is most probably developing and it is TIME to get the person to a medical facility FAST !!
Time is critical – many medical journals use a term called “Golden Window”. This is a period of about 3 hours following the onset of stroke in which there is a maximum chance of the brain cells not suffering permanent damage ,if prompt and correct medical treatment is made available.
These symptoms may go after some time ( that is, the stroke was “Transient “- medically known as a Transient Ischemic Attack or a TIA ). What has most probably happened is that a blood “clot” or any other thing ( even tension ! ) which was restricting blood supply to the brain has resolved and near normal supply restored.
Even then , these should not be ignored and medical help be sought immediately. Preferably at a Facility where brain scans can be done. A TIA can sometimes show up in such scans, if done quickly.
Here is a link to a Video explaining in simple terms what happens before and during a ” stroke . This also describes a “ Hemorrhagic Stroke” NOT covered above