Brain Stroke: Symptoms and treatment

Brain Stroke: Symptoms and treatment
Highlights

A stroke is a \"brain attack\" and occurs when blood supply to the brain is cut off.

A stroke is a "brain attack" and occurs when blood supply to the brain is cut off. According to Kenneth A. Levin, M.D., Medical Director, The Valley Hospital Stroke Center, “Most strokes are caused by a blood clot that has built up on the wall of a brain artery or one that has traveled there from another part of the body (an embolic stroke or ischemic stroke).

Other strokes are caused by a ruptured blood vessel in or near the brain (aneurysm), which results in bleeding within or over the surface of the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).”

Stroke symptoms include:
• Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
• Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding
• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance/coordination
• sudden severe headache with no known cause
• Difficulty swallowing

What does a stroke do to the brain?
“A stroke can result in weakness or paralysis of one side of the body, loss of speech or the ability to understand others, memory loss, or a combination of these factors. A stroke can be slight or severe, temporary or permanent, depending on the extent of damage to the brain.

A stroke can cause death or serious injuries that can be harmful to your quality of life,” explains Dr. Levin. Possible complications include pneumonia or potentially dangerous blood clots in the legs.

Treatment
There are treatments that can reduce the risk of damage from a stroke, but you must seek help quickly. One such treatment is a clot-busting drug called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator).

Patients who come to the Emergency Department up to six hours from the onset of stroke symptoms and are diagnosed with an embolic/ischemic stroke (blood clot blocking oxygen to the brain) are evaluated for treatment with tPA and/or neurointerventional treatments.

tPA is a medication that is given intravenously or administered directly inside an artery to break up the blood clot. tPA is only given to adult stroke patients.

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