Stroke: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Stroke: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is stroke?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the United state, the fifth to be precise. Annually, about 795,000 in the United States have a stroke. In addition, statistics experts predict that about 13.7 million worldwide will have their first stroke this year, and about 5.5 million will die as a result. These figures show how it has become a worldwide epidemic. 

Without oxygen, brain cells and tissues cannot function properly, become damaged, and eventually begin to die off within minutes. 

What causes stroke?

It occurs as a result of the rupture of blood vessels or when there’s a blockage in the brain’s blood supply. The rupture or blockage of blood vessels, also known as atherosclerosis, prevents oxygen delivery to the brain. Blood vessels could get blocked or rupture due to several reasons, such reasons include:

  • Fatty or fibrous buildup in arteries 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Insulin resistance, obesity, or diabetes
  • High triglycerides in cells, a type of fat (lipid) in the blood
  • Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
  • High cholesterols 


  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart conditions
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke or Smoking of tobacco 
  • Being overweight
  • Intake of unhealthy fats
  • Excessive cholesterol in the body


The lack of oxygenated blood in the brain damages tissues and cells within the brain. Symptoms show up in parts of the body controlled by the damaged part of the brain. The sooner a person gets diagnosis and treatment, the better the chances of survival. The symptoms come in many forms, including: 

  • Paralysis
  • Confusion
  • Slurring speech
  • Trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Numbness or weakness in the arm, face, and leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Impaired vision, inability to see clearly with both eyes, blackened or blurred vision, or doubled vision 
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Severe headaches with no apparent cause
  • Reduced sensation of touch
  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • Nystagmus, an involuntary eye movement 

Stroke is a severe condition that demands immediate medical attention. Prompt treatment is key to preventing some severe outcomes. These outcomes include: 

  • Permanent brain damage
  • Long-term disability
  • Death

In addition, symptoms may differ between men and women. Below are some gender-specific symptoms.

Symptoms in men

  • Drooping on one side of the face or an uneven smile
  • Slurred speech, inability to speak fluently, and trouble understanding other speech
  • Arm numbness or muscle weakness on one side of the body

Symptoms in women

  • Hallucination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • General weakness
  • Seizures
  • Confusion 
  • Sudden behavioral change
  • Pain
  • Shortness of breath


There are three main types: ischemic, transient ischemic, and hemorrhagic stroke. 

1. Ischemic

This occurs when the blood vessel supplying blood to the brain is obstructed or narrowed due to plaque buildup, which could be in the form of blood clot or fatty or fibrous buildup. Ischemic stroke is divided into two, thrombotic and embolic stroke. Although they have similar causes, thrombotic stroke is caused when a blood clot forms in the artery tasked with supplying blood to the brain. This clot grows bigger and eventually prevents blood supply. On the other hand, embolic stroke occurs when a clot is formed somewhere else in the body and then travels to one of the arteries supplying blood to the brain. This clot may be formed and transported from one of the arteries taking blood from the heart. 

2. Transient ischemic attack (TIA)

TIA, also known as a mini-stroke, occurs when the brain experiences a temporary lack of blood flow. The temporary blockage causes stroke-like symptoms that usually get resolved within 24 hours. Compared to stroke, mini-stroke doesn’t cause permanent disabilities. Although mini-stroke resolves in hours, it still requires immediate medical attention. In addition, statistics show that 1 out of 3 people who experience mini-stroke go on to experience stroke. TIA often acts as a warning of future stroke and shouldn’t be ignored.

3. Hemorrhagic

It occurs when an artery in the brain breaks open or leaks blood. The blood flow from the broken artery causes a pressure buildup in the skull and swells the brain, causing brain cell and tissue damage.


Stroke can be subdued by the regular use of medications and certain lifestyle changes.

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