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A stroke is an attack on the brain when there is a blood clot in a blood vessel. This will stop proper blood to flow to the brain. There can be serious complications following a stroke including permanent brain damage if brain cells die during the attack. There are different types of stroke including an ischemic stroke, small vessel disease, hemorrhagic stroke, thrombotic stroke or embolic stroke. Each stroke has a different set of causes and treatments. There are also strokes known as blood-clot strokes, which are usually from the buildup of cholesterol and fatty deposits.

Causes, Risk Factors and Complications of Stroke

If the blood supply in your brain is reduced or interrupted in another way, it can cause a stroke due to lack of oxygen to your brain. Some of the brain cells die during the stroke though the severity of it depends on the type of stroke. Risk factors for a stroke include having diabetes, atrial fibrillation, being over the age of 55, having family members who have had a stroke, high cholesterol, smoking cigarettes or taking illegal drugs, drinking alcohol heavily, eating a diet high in salt or fat and being obese. Birth control pills also pose a risk for stroke in women because they increase the risk of blood clots. Strokes also tend to be more common in males and in African Americans. Complications of a stroke include pain, permanent brain injury, not being able to talk, swallowing difficulties and paralysis.

Signs, Symptoms and Tests of Stroke

A stroke can cause permanent brain damage from the killing of brain cells; therefore you should look for signs of a stroke and get medical attention immediately. Signs of a stroke include sudden severe headache, difficulty swallowing, loss of memory, dizziness, loss of coordination or balance, confusion, not being to speak or understand properly, not being able to read or write, face weakness or numbness and not being able to see out of both eyes properly. Remember these will all be very sudden.

If you notice any of these signs, you should go to the hospital immediately. Diagnosis of a stroke usually includes a physical examination, blood tests to look for blood clots or high blood sugar counts, a CT scan of your brain, MRI of your brain, x-rays, cerebral angiogram, carotid ultrasound, echocardiogram (ECG) and vital tests. Keep in mind some strokes show very few symptoms, also known as silent strokes. If you have any of the symptoms of a stroke, whether mild or severe, contact your doctor right away or get emergency medical attention. This will prevent more serious complications of the stroke.

Treatment, Drugs and Preventionof Stroke

The treatment you need depends on the type of stroke you had. After an ischemic stroke, emergency assistance is needed to restore blood flow to the brain. This is done with clot-busting medications and needs to be given no more than 4.5 hours after the stroke began and into the vein. Other medications include aspirin to prevent clots and blood-thinning drugs. Some strokes need an emergency procedure such as a clot removal, angioplasty, carotid endarterectomy, blood vessel repair, surgical clipping to stop blood flow, coiling or surgical AVM removal. Additional treatment will include seeing a variety of specialists including a dietician, physical therapist, occupational therapist and speech therapist. To prevent a stroke, dont smoke cigarettes, keep your fat and cholesterol low, control your blood pressure, drink alcohol in moderation, treat your diabetes and eat a healthy diet.