Stroke. How to avoid and what to do?

Cardiovascular diseases have long been the leading cause of death. The World Health Organization estimates that 17.9 million people died from heart disease in 2016. 85% of all these deaths are caused by heart attacks and strokes. According to the Stroke Foundation every minute and a half someone suffers a stroke.

In the spring of 2019, these statistics ceased to be abstract figures for the journalist Sasha Vasilyeva – her dad had a stroke. She talks about what my dad went through, understands the types, signs and risk factors of stroke and explains what can be done for prevention.

What is a stroke

Stroke. How to avoid and what to do?

The human brain, like all other tissues and organs, needs oxygen and nutrients. They are carried by the bloodstream through the arteries.

It is vitally important that this constant process of blood circulation is not interrupted – brain cells (and not only them), left without oxygen, quickly die. A condition in which cerebral circulation is impaired is called a stroke.

The main types of developments are as follows.

Ischemic stroke

Blood may not flow to the brain because the artery supplying it is partially or completely blocked. This is an ischemic stroke. It occurs in more than 80% of cases. The artery is blocked by a blood clot – a thrombus. It can be the “master” of this artery – to arise there due to wall damage. Or a blood clot – an embolus – may be a “guest” rushing in from another place in the body. Such a “guest” travels through the blood vessels of the brain until it reaches the narrowest one in order to get stuck in it.

Hemorrhagic stroke

Stroke. How to avoid and what to do?

Another type of stroke, hemorrhagic, occurs, for example, when a weakened blood vessel that feeds the brain ruptures. In other words, a cerebral hemorrhage occurs: blood floods the nearest areas of the brain, damaging them. Those brain cells that are located behind the rupture site are deprived of blood supply and oxygen and also suffer. In another type of hemorrhagic stroke, blood enters the space between the brain and the bones of the skull.

Transient ischemic attack

A variant of short-term circulatory disorders in the brain, which is also caused by a blood clot, is also possible. For example, when washing his face in the morning, a person finds that half of his mouth does not obey well. He gets scared, but while he brushes his teeth, everything goes away. Or suddenly one hand goes numb – not for long, and the person decides that this is an accident, not a symptom.

Such a condition close to a stroke is called a transient ischemic attack. It usually goes away in a few minutes, does not destroy brain cells, but it can be a harbinger of an impending stroke, therefore, such symptoms cannot be attributed to accident.