Stroke: what it is, symptoms, causes and treatment..

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In this article the Nomenial team speak about stroke: what it is, symptoms, causes and treatment. Almost 85% of strokes affect people over 65. The disease is the leading cause of death among women and the second leading cause of death among men.

What is a stroke?

Stroke is a stroke that is also known as a heart attack or stroke. It occurs when the brain does not receive the necessary amount of blood due to decreased or obstructed blood flow and as a result, the nerve cells do not receive oxygen, so they stop working.

Stroke: causes

It has been estimated that 90% of strokes could be prevented by knowing the risk factors.

The main risk factors for stroke are:

  • Hypertension: This is one of the most important factors in the origin of a stroke. So much so that almost 70% of strokes in the older adults are caused by high blood pressure.
  • Diabetes: people with diabetes are two to three times more likely to suffer a stroke, as diabetes damages the blood vessels, promotes high blood pressure and increases cholesterol levels.
  • Cardiovascular disease: older adults with heart problems are more at risk of suffering from a stroke. In particular, heart arrhythmias are the cause of more than 30% of strokes in Spain. On the other hand, heart attack is one of the most frequent causes of death in stroke survivors.
  • Inadequate diet: a good way to prevent stroke is to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Through food, our elders will improve in this and other areas where it affects us. The basis of your eating habit should be vegetables, fruit, fibre, fish and pulses.
  • Lack of physical activity: a sedentary lifestyle leads to many health problems, including stroke. People who do not exercise are more likely to suffer from other risk factors such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease or overweight.
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol and tobacco: being regular consumers of these products leads to increased blood pressure and heart disease of varying degrees. In the specific case of tobacco, nicotine and carbon monoxide deteriorate the cardiovascular system.
  • Family history: the probability of suffering a stroke increases if someone in the family has also had one.
  • Gender: it is more prevalent in women than in men.
  • Age: after the age of 55, the risk of suffering a stroke increases. Each decade of life doubles the risk of suffering a stroke.
  • Seasonality: the periods of the year when the temperature is more extreme (hot or cold) are when more strokes occur.

Stroke: symptoms

This cardiovascular accident appears suddenly, without giving any notice in advance. It is therefore vital to know what the first symptoms of stroke are in the older adults, in order to act as quickly as possible:

  • Weakness. Sudden loss of strength on one side of the body: the face, an arm or a leg.
  • Sudden confusion, manifesting itself in difficulty in speaking or understanding what is being said.
  • Dizziness and loss of coordination, which leads to a loss of balance and a possible fall.
  • Lack of vision, with total or partial loss of sight in one or both eyes.
  • Deep headache.

These symptoms will present themselves differently depending on the region of the brain that has been affected by the stroke:

If it affects the left region of the brain, the damaged area will be the right part of the body and the left part of the face, triggering:

  • Paralysis of the right side of the body.
  • Difficulties in speaking and expressing oneself.
  • Slower behaviour.
  • Loss of memory.

If the affected region is the right one, it will be the left one that will be damaged:

  • Paralysis of the left side of the body.
  • Difficulties in vision.
  • Accelerated behaviour and poor coordination.
  • Loss of memory

Stroke: what it is, symptoms, causes and treatment – Mini stroke symptoms

Mild strokes or mini-strokes do not cause the symptoms of stroke. In this case we find atrophy or weakness somewhere in the body, facial paralysis, difficulty in speaking, or, if they do occur, they occur with very little intensity and disappear immediately.

Beyond this, some subtle symptoms that these mini inctus can present are:

  • Some difficulty in speaking.
  • Disorientation for 1 or 2 minutes
  • Short but very intense headaches.

Types of stroke:

Ischemic Stroke

Ischemic stroke occurs when an artery in the brain becomes blocked by a blood clot or thrombus. This is responsible for partially or totally limiting blood flow by decreasing the amount of oxygen reaching the brain.

Haemorrhagic Stroke

Haemorrhagic stroke occurs to a lesser extent among those affected (10-15% of cases). It is caused by the rupture of a blood vessel (vein or artery) that leads to a cerebral haemorrhage. Oxygen stops getting to the brain, so the nerve cells stop working and die within a few minutes.

Another important cause of stroke is atrial fibrillation. It is the most frequent type of arrhythmia and it affects more than 650,000 Spaniards. It is a great health problem and increases the risk of suffering cardiac episodes.

Stroke: what it is, symptoms, causes and treatment – F.A.S.T. Method:

In order to act with the immediacy that we indicated above, after calling the doctor and waiting for his arrival, we must perform the so-called F.A.S.T. method on our elder, the best pre-hospital assessment tool for the detection of stroke.

This consists of carrying out the following:

  • F (Face): tell our family member to smile to see if their mouth deviates to a certain side when they do so.
  • A (Arms): ask him to lift each of his limbs individually, first one and then the other.
  • S (Speech): ask him to speak in order to warn if he has lost the ability to express himself normally.
  • T (Time): refers to the great importance of the time variable. Calling the emergency telephone immediately so that he can be attended to as soon as possible will reduce the risk of death and the other consequences that result from it.

Repetition of stroke in the older adults

Most of the repetitions of stroke occur during the first week. Thus, after a first stroke, 52% of patients suffer a recurrence within 7 days and 42% within 30 days.

The likelihood of a recurrence of the stroke depends, above all, on the risk factors associated with the patient and the severity of the stroke suffered. For this reason, the best way to prevent this stroke, is for our older adults to maintain an adequate routine and to always recieve care so that they can act in the face of this sudden condition.

Stroke: what it is, symptoms, causes and treatment.

Cerebral ictus in the older adults often leaves serious after-effects, but through permanent and specialized assistance, recovery from ictus in the seniors is possible.

Neurological treatment

For this purpose, a neurological treatment will be carried out, the results of which will be clearly visible. Among them, for example, our family member will improve something as essential as being able to walk: the alteration of the gait can be reversed by 30% in most cases and a greater percentage in those who carry out rehabilitation. Hiring a carer during this process can foster recovery while giving both, family and care recipient, a valuable autonomy

Medical experts will analyse which of our relative’s neurological systems have been significantly damaged and which remain intact. Based on this, they will focus their efforts on the latter and, with their help, will teach them different motor strategies that will force them to use them.

Age is important, but the type of treatment which the carer applies to the older person is even more important. In this way, recovery from stroke in people over 90 is determined more by the degree of functional and neurological alteration they have suffered than by their age. Hence the importance of encouraging our family members to make an effort to reduce the consequences, since their age, however high, should not be an argument for not undertaking an ambitious rehabilitation.

Just as medical intervention and follow-up is essential, so to reduce the consequences of stroke in the older adults, constant and stable domestic treatment becomes essential. Thanks to it, our family member will adapt to the new life habits he or she must maintain, while feeling protected and safe from any new health problems that may arise. We hope this article on stroke: what it is, symptoms, causes and treatment has been useful.