Stroke or brain stroke is the third most common cause of death in modern society, which very often causes severe complications and consequences for survivors.
What exactly is this terrible disease? It is a sudden disturbance of the circulation in the brain due to a blockage or rupture of a blood vessel.
The characteristics of this disease, which occurs suddenly, as “thunder from the clear sky”, from full health, affecting large, strong, obese, and rosy people, are well known among the people. And then it turns out that such a person had high blood pressure, headaches, heart problems, vision problems, blood sugar, and more.
So, in the post that follows, you will learn what are the signs of stroke, as well as symptoms and risk factors, and what happens during a stroke.
Here are some quick links to what we’ll cover in this article. If you’re in hurry, or for any other reason, feel free to use the quick links to jump straight to the section you want to read:
- Basic things about anatomy and physiology of cerebral blood flow
- Main risk factors
- Risk factors you didn’t even think about
- Weather conditions
- Symptoms and diagnosis – how to recognize a stroke?
- How to protect yourself?
The main cause of this disease is a disorder in the blood circulation of the brain, damage to the brain tissue, and, consequently, disturbing the basic functions of this organ.
This phenomenon occurs when a thrombus interrupts the flow of blood to the brain, or due to a rupture of a blood vessel in the brain, or in an embolism with a piece of a blood clot that has arrived from another place.
The stroke used to endanger the health of older people, but in recent decades, more and more people are under the age of 45. There is no doubt that most of them are able to work, but that, unfortunately, after suffering the disease, they become disabled and are left mostly to the care of the family. They become completely new personalities overnight, with special social problems; immobile or semi-immobile, with difficulty speaking, thinking, and reasoning.
The supply of the brain with blood and energy substances takes place through the aorta, carotid (neck), and vertebral (spinal) blood vessels, which build the so-called Willis hexagon in the brain itself, and represents the most important junction (anamostosis) between both carotid arteries. When an obstruction in the bloodstream occurs. this coupling comes into operation as a backup path.
The brain requires an ideal blood supply; it is very sensitive to lack of blood, oxygen, and sugar.
Since it accounts for only 2% of a person’s body weight, it consumes as much as 15% of oxygen, ten times more than the rest of the body. This clearly shows how great his need for “energy” is, and the blood supply is provided by a very complex system of regulation.
Even after the shortest interruption of the supply of oxygen and nutrients, it suffers irreversible damage.
The main pathological changes in the blood vessels of the brain that lead to a stroke are atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is a pathological process that occurs in the inner layer of the artery wall, on which fatty substances, calcium, connective tissue, and carbohydrates from the blood are deposited, creating partly thickening of the blood vessel wall, and partly thinning or saccular expansion (aneurysms). All this eventually leads to narrowing of the arteries and weakening of their walls.
Arteriosclerosis is actually an aging artery, which loses elasticity while constricting. These two processes go together and both exist in the same blood vessel.
Based on epidemiological research, risk factors have been determined that be provocative factors in the occurrence of the mentioned pathological changes in blood vessels. They can be divided into two main groups, and in parentheses, we will state how many times which factor increases the probability of the disease:
Group A – Those that cannot be influenced:
Group B – Those that can be influenced:
- High blood pressure (1.8 to 30 times) is considered to be the most important factor and is directly proportional to the level of pressure and the duration of this disease.
- Diabetes (2.5 to 3 times) is a disease that damages the small and medium arteries, thus causing atherosclerosis and increasing its effect on the occurrence of cerebral ischemia.
- Smoking (5.7 times) is a harmful habit that has a great impact on stroke, especially in men under the age of 65, because nicotine affects the increase of fibrinogen in the blood and higher viscosity.
- Alcohol (in men 4.2 times, in women 5 times) as well as tobacco, especially when combined, is also a significant factor.
- Lipoprotein disorders represent one of the most important factors in the development of atherosclerosis
- Heart disease (2 times)
- The use of contraceptives (6 times) has a great effect on blood clotting and therefore is a dangerous factor.
In addition to the above classic risk factors, there are many others that can be the causes of stroke:
Migraine – Women who suffer from it are at a significantly higher risk. English doctors have determined that young women who have this type of headache, get 3.5 times more often. In 20 to 40% of women, stroke was a continuation of a migraine attack.
Aggressive men – Those men who easily “lose their nerve” are twice as likely to have a stroke as those who are calmer and better controlled, scientists in Michigan claim, and confirm the long-known stereotype about ostentatious and aggressive men who die of stroke.
Anger – Those who are angry are also twice as likely to suffer a stroke as those who are able to control their anger. Other risk factors are excluded. In a study presented at the congress of the American Association of Cardiologists, a large percentage of patients said that they had more frequent outbursts of anger due to increased stress at work.
Counting to 10 – The point is not that anger should be suppressed, but that one should try to determine what is causing anger and learn how to “deal” with it. American cardiologists recommend that, when a person finds himself in a situation of anger, he takes a deep breath and counts to ten.
Shaving – Men who do not use a razor every day (beard did not grow fast enough due to lack of testosterone), are more at risk than others and have a 70% higher risk of disease. These are the data obtained on the basis of a study in which 500 men who did not shave every day participated, and the scientists still did not fully clarify the connection between testosterone levels and the risk of the disease.
Hair loss – Men with mild baldness on the top of the head, most often in the shape of a circle, are as much as 40% more likely to have a heart attack than those who do not have baldness. Completely bald people have a 36% higher risk of developing angina pectoris and myocardial infarction.
Experts warn that the mentioned findings and research should be understood only as statistical data, and not that baldness is the cause of heart attacks.
Bad breath – Poor dental and oral hygiene, believe it or not, is also one of the risks. Chronic bacterial infections, in addition to destroying teeth and gums, allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream.
Malnutrition and weight loss – this factor is a particular risk if these people have not been treated for hypertension. The true cause of higher mortality in these people has not been determined, but it is assumed that it is a diet without vitamins.
Body height – British experts have determined that there is a direct connection between a person’s height and the risk of having a stroke. Namely, men shorter than 1.63 m have twice the risk of getting the disease, and every 10 cm of height reduces the risk by 20%. As for females, they are exposed to a 30% higher risk if they are lower than 1.52 m.
Depression – In a study conducted among 3,600 men by magnetic resonance imaging, it was found that depressed people have a greater number of minor brain damage.
Nasal drops – These types of drugs cause narrowing of blood vessels in and around the nose, thus preventing blood flow to the nasal mucosa.
Long-haul flights – Overseas flights that go through multiple time zones can cause the brain to “shrink”. These types of flights disrupt a person’s internal biorhythm.
Insufficient sleep – Many organs in our body rest even while we are awake, but not the cerebral cortex – with it, rest is possible only during sleep. This disorder also adversely affects mental processes and the ability to concentrate.
Research by French doctors has shown that certain meteorological factors, such as temperature, humidity, wind strength, atmospheric pressure, significantly contribute to an increase or decrease in the number of strokes. The changes most often appear in the spring and autumn, and on those days when the changes are sudden.
A stroke usually happens in the morning, between 8 and 9 o’clock. The reason for this is probably the blood pressure, which usually drops during the night, and starts to rise early in the morning when daylight sends signals to the body to wake up.
More people suffer a stroke in winter and early spring, then most often (about 70%) on Mondays, and least often on Sundays. Also, it usually happens during “working hours” (between 8 am and 4 pm) at work. The cause of these phenomena is unknown.
“Jumps” of barometric pressure, as well as heat and humidity, are also very common causes.
Patients themselves often do not recognize the first warning signals, and unfortunately, believe it or not, even doctors. It usually does not hurt, so patients do not consider the symptoms life-threatening and do not attach much importance to them until they become more pronounced. They usually wait for the symptoms to go away on their own.
- Chronic headaches in men say, Finnish researchers, indicate a risk. On the other hand, women complained of headaches twice as often as men, but their association with danger was almost negligible.
- Vision problems – Out of pure peace, a person does not see with one eye at all, everything is black, or he sees double images. And although this “blackout” which lasts for a few minutes, disappears and vision normalizes, many take this warning lightly.
- Numbness of the arms or legs – it happens that things suddenly fall out of a person’s arms and that weakness also lasts for a few minutes.
- Sudden onset of severe headache
- Flickers of the fingers of one hand or one corner of the lips
- Feeling numb in one half of the body
- Dizziness and loss of balance
- Loss of bladder control
These are all transient symptoms, which quickly disappear completely, within 24 hours at the latest. At the same time, the capacities of the brain remain completely preserved, there is no damage in any part of it.
However, if one of these above-mentioned indications appears, there is a tenfold risk that a stroke will occur in the near future – which is very characteristic of this disease because it progresses quickly. Therefore, you should unconditionally consult a specialist.
What to do if a stroke occurs?
In any case, you need to act quickly. It is extremely important as soon as possible, but no later than within the first 3 hours so that the patient receives the appropriate therapy. Until the arrival of the emergency service, it is necessary to place the patient in a horizontal position in a darkened room.
If the patient is able to communicate, the diagnosis must be made by taking data (anamnesis) from him or someone close to him, for example, a family member.
Then a general and neurological examination is performed and blood is taken for laboratory analysis.
An examination of the large arteries of the neck (carotid arteries) and vertebral (spinal) arteries is performed, as well as an examination of the fundus, because it is known that the arteries on the retina are an excellent indicator of events in the blood vessels of the brain.
As for the test methods, there are:
- Ultrasound diagnostics
- Brain/Cerebral tomography (CT)
- Magnetic resonance
- X-ray of blood vessels (arteriography)
The first and foremost thing is for a person to recognize the warning signs and to seek medical help immediately when they feel them.
With age, a person loses water in the body, the skin loses elasticity, and the organs lose their vitality. That is why it is very important to get enough fluids in the body.
Another, also very important factor of prevention is the quality of the diet, especially the intake of vitamins, and above all the so-called antioxidants or “scavengers” of free radicals (vitamins C and E).
Frequent and regular monitoring of blood pressure is also a very important thing.
People who “exercise and train” their brains with the help of different types of activities are at much lower risk compared to those who, for example, watch TV very often.
A study conducted at the University Hospital in Cleveland found that intellectual activities reduce the risk of disease by as much as 2.5 times.
People who walk regularly are much less likely to suffer from memory loss and other mental abilities.
A daily half-hour walk raises the level of tissue plasminogen, a substance that participates in the breakdown of blood clots.
In order to protect the blood vessels of the brain, healthy eating and diet are very important, and it includes a lot of fish, as little meat as possible (maybe white chicken), olive oil, a lot of green vegetables (cabbage, lettuce, kale), a lot of vegetables (carrots and tomatoes) and of course vitamins and minerals, so-called free radical scavengers.
Apart from prevention, the effect of the antioxidants beta carotene and potassium is even more significant at the time of the stroke. It is highly desirable to have large amounts of these minerals in the blood. For example, one portion of food rich in potassium is enough – a small baked potato or a piece of fruit or vegetable, and that is the amount of about 400 mg of potassium.
We hope this post helped you learn what is stroke (brain stroke), what are the main causes of this vicious disease, what are symptoms occur in patients, and of course, the best ways to do in this situation and how to cure it naturally.
And if you are looking for more ways to improve your heart health, you should check our other great Majota Blog posts.
Also, if you have any questions or feel that there is some other important symptom or remedy to cure stroke we have not listed, feel free to leave a comment, it will mean a lot to us and we will be grateful for it.