Stroke (cerebrovascular accident) is the sudden loss of neurological function caused by an interruption of blood flow to the brain. Stroke is of two major types

  • Ischaemic stroke affecting 80% of the individuals
  • Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when blood vessels rupture, causing leakage of blood in and around brain

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death& leading cause of long-term disability.The incidence of stroke increases with age.atherosclerosis is the major contributing factor for cerebrovascular diseases, it is characterized by plaque formation with an accumulation of lipids, fibrins, complex carbohydrates & calcium deposits on the arterial wall that leads to progressive narrowing of blood vessels.

Preferred sites of atherosclerosis:-

  • Bifurcations
  • Constrictions
  • Dilatations/angulations of arteries

Most Common Sites of Atherosclerosis:

  • Origin of common carotid artery at its transition into middle cerebral artery
  • Main bifurcation of middle cerebral artery
  • Junction of vertebral arteries with the basilar artery
  • Haemorrhage is closely related to chronic hypertension
  • Arteriovenous malformation (AVM) is another congenital defect i.e. results in stroke
  • AVM is characterized by a tortuous tangle of arteries & veins with agenesis of interposing capillary system.

Risk Factors & Warning Signs of Stroke

  • Hypertension
  • Heart Disease
  • Disorders of Heart Rhythm
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Elevated Fasting Triglyceride Levels (150mg/Dl)
  • Elevation of Hematocrit
  • Rheumatic Heart Valvular Disease
  • Endocarditis/Cardiac Surgery (Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery)
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Renal Disease (Final Stage)
  • Sleep Apnea( Doubling  The Risk Of Stroke)

Specific Risk Factors for Stroke:

  • Early Menopause
  • Use of Estrogen-Alone / Estrogen plus Progesterone
  • Pregnancy
  • Birth & 1st 6 Weeks of Post-Partum Period
  • Pre-Eclampsia

Modifiable Risk Factors:

  • Cigarette Smoking
  • Physical in Activity
  • Diet
  • Obesity

Non-Modifiable Risk Factors:

  • Family History
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race

Warning Signs of Stroke:

  • Sudden numbness/weakness of the face, arm/leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking/understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one /both eyes
  • Sudden trouble in walking, dizziness, loss of balance & coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Prevention of Stroke

Lifestyle modification can greatly reduce the risk of stroke

  • Controlling BP
  • Diet
  • Weight loss
  • Quitting smoking
  • Increasing physical activity &
  • Effective disease management

Effective stroke prevention depends on public awareness concerning early warning signs of stroke. Major heart and stroke association currently promoted the use of term brain attack comparable to heart attack to help individuals recognize the importance of seeking immediate emergency care.

We welcome your comments on this post

Author's Bio: Srinitha Busam Is a Physiotherapist and Research writer.

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