A stroke, also referred to as a brain attack or a cerebral infarction, is a sudden loss of brain function because of a stoppage of blood flow to the brain. Without adequate blood flow to your brain, cells begin to die within minutes and areas of your brain that control movement, speech, vision and sensation may be affected. Therefore, a stroke is a major medical emergency, and requires immediate medical attention to minimize brain damage.
There are two major types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel supplying the brain is blocked by a blood clot, which may happen from a. a narrow artery (thrombotic stroke) or b. the clot may form in another part of your brain or your body and move to the affected blood vessel (embolic stroke). Ischemic strokes are often precipitated by clogged arteries, which can be caused by atherosclerosis and high levels of LDL cholesterol.
Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in your brain leaks or ruptures. This can be caused by a variety of conditions that affect your blood vessels, including high blood pressure and weak spots in your blood vessel walls (aneurisms).
Although you have a decent chance of surviving a stroke, early detection and prevention are critical. The following are signs and symptoms of a stroke:
- sudden confusion and/or memory loss
- sudden loss of balance or coordination
- sudden difficultly speaking
- sudden vision impairment
- sudden massive headache
- sudden numbness, weakness, or paralysis of your face, arm or leg (usually on just one side of your body)
- sudden change in personality or mood
Living a lifestyle that can prevent a stroke is obviously a wise choice. Factors that put you at risk for stroke include:
- age (strokes are more common in adults)
- high blood pressure
- estrogen therapy, e.g. for menopause
- family history
- history of congestive heart failure, or previous heart attack
- high cholesterol
- high homocysteine levels (common in dietary deficiencies and alcoholism)
- previous history of stroke
- cigarette smoking
Calling 911 and seeking immediate treatment for stroke is your best option at the first indication that something is happening. Be sure that you and your loved ones are all trained on identifying the signs, and know to call for help right away. Treatment at the hospital will depend on the type and severity of the stroke.
For an ischemic stroke, a clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) will likely be used, if you are within three hours of your first symptoms (this drug can, however worsen a hemorrhagic stroke, so differentiation is key). Prevention of an ischemic stroke is usually attempted with anti-coagulant and anti-platelet drugs.
With a hemorrhagic stroke, surgery is likely recommended for both prevention and treatment, in order to keep an aneurism from bursting or continuing to bleed.
Natural medicine is excellent for both preventing and/or recovering from a stroke, where surgery is not required. Acupuncture and TCM can improve blood flow and resolve energy blockages. Nutritional counselling can guide you to a healthier diet plan, and one-on-one yoga classes can reduce your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Massage therapy can help you reduce stress, a major contributing factor to strokes.
Contact us for a FREE consultation on how natural therapy can help you prevent and/or recover from a stroke.
These links may also be helpful: