Symptoms of stroke

Symptoms of stroke (or cerebral infarction) occur when blood flow in the brain is cut off.

The brain tissue remains without oxygen and nutrients.

After a few minutes, the brain cells begin to die.
The stroke is a medical emergency. Early treatment is very important. Rapid intervention prevents serious cerebral injuries.


Classification of stroke

  • Ischemic stroke is caused by ischemia or occlusion of an artery. 80% of strokes are caused by vascular occlusion.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke is characterized by intracerebral hemorrhage. Cerebral hemorrhage occurs when a vessel in the brain ruptures and the blood mixes with the cerebrospinal fluid. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs in about 20% of cases and also includes rupture of a cerebral aneurysm.
    In pregnancy, the risk of stroke is relatively low. In fact, it occurs in about 2.5 out of 100,000 pregnant women (Kittner et al. – 2006).

Recognizing signs and symptoms of stroke

The signs and symptoms of stroke vary from person to person.
All symptoms start suddenly.
Each area of the brain controls a part of the body. Depending on the zone of the brain where the stroke occurred, the symptoms are different.
The severity of symptoms depends on the damage.

The main symptoms of acute stroke can be derived from the English word FAST (Face-Arms-Speech-Time): face-arm-speech-time.

  • Face – The facial muscles lose their strength on one half of the face. The person cannot smile or one of the eyelids sinks above the eye.
  • Arm – Often the person affected by the stroke cannot lift the arm and hold it in one position. She may feel a tingling sensation in her hand.
  • Language – When speaking, an affected person may “swallow” the words. In severe cases, the person can not speak at all.
  • Time – The emergency number 112 must be called immediately if these neurological signs or symptoms occur in order to save the life of the person affected.

Everyone should know the symptoms of a stroke, because although it mainly affects older people, it could also occur in younger people.
Stroke in children is very rare, but it can also occur in newborns. In this case, it is difficult to notice the symptoms.

Other symptoms are listed below:

  • Hemiplegia, which is a numbness, weakness or paralysis on only one side of the body
  • sudden loss of vision (due to an infarction in the occipital lobe of the brain)
  • Vertigo
  • Speech disorders
  • Comprehension difficulties
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Swallowing disorders
  • severe headache

‘Mini-stroke’ or transient ischemic attack (TIA)

The symptoms of a transient ischemic attack (TIA) are the same as those of a stroke, but last less than 24 hours.

One must not ignore a TIA, because it is a signal for circulation problems in the brain.
1 person in 10 who had a TIA has another in the following four weeks.
After a TIA, you should see your family doctor or go to a hospital as soon as possible.

If you suspect a stroke, you should ask the person to smile.
If the lips are not symmetrical when smiling, the person has suffered a stroke.

Causes of mild stroke

The most common cause of mild stroke is decreased blood supply to the brain.
The main reason is a clotting problem, an accumulation of cholesterol and high blood pressure.
In severe cases, a thrombus or embolus blocks blood circulation.

Complications and consequences of stroke

A stroke can lead to temporary or permanent disability. This depends on the length of time the brain was not sufficiently supplied with blood.
Possible complications include:

  • Paralysis or loss of movement of the muscles. One side of the body may be completely paralyzed or control of some muscles may be lost.
    Physiokinesitherapy helps to carry out the daily activities (running, eating and dressing).
  • difficulty speaking and swallowing.
  • A stroke can lead to loss of muscle control, moving the mouth and throat.
    The mouth can be “crooked” because the muscles that support the lips are paralyzed on one side.
    Speaking and swallowing can be difficult and you may experience problems with the following activities:

    • Language comprehension
    • Read
    • To write
  • Memory loss and difficulty thinking.
    Many people who have had a stroke have lost their memory. Others may lose consciousness.
  • Emotional problems. People who have had a stroke may have difficulty controlling their own emotions. They are often depressed (Kumar ET AL. – 2010).
  • Epilepsy. After a stroke, seizures can also occur in people who have never had this disorder before.
  • Pain. Those affected who have suffered a stroke have discomfort, numbness and other strange sensations. If a stroke causes a loss of sensitivity in the left arm, an ant tingling sensation may be felt in this arm.
  • Other people are sensitive to temperature changes, especially in the cold. This complication develops many weeks after the stroke, but improves over time. If the pain is caused by a problem in the brain, there aren’t many treatment options.
  • Changes in behaviour and personal hygiene. People who have suffered a stroke become more introverted and seek less company. Often this is accompanied by impulsive behavior.
    Often they need help with personal hygiene and daily tasks.

What to do?

The doctor must establish a program to restore and prevent recurrence. To achieve this goal, cooperation between the neurologist and the cardiologist is required.

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