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Jake Ames, MD, HMD.

What is a stroke?

It is a lot easier to prevent a stroke than to be treating a stroke. A stroke is where the brain does not get enough oxygen, and brain cells start to die. Every year, approximately 795,000 people suffer a stroke. About 600,000 of these are first strokes, and 185,000 are recurrent attacks. There are different degrees of severity with strokes. Some people have what is called a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which results in a temporary loss of oxygen, and minimal nerve cell death. Their brain dissolves the blood clot very quickly. These strokes usually cannot be seen on an MRI or CT scan. TIA’s are a risk for a major stroke in the future.

Types of strokes

There are two main classifications of strokes, ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes. An ischemic stroke is where a blood vessel in the brain gets blocked by either plaque or a blood clot (thrombus). There are two main subtypes of ischemic stroke, thrombotic and embolic. A thrombotic stroke is a localized damage to a blood vessel by atherosclerotic plaque that can rupture and form a localized blood clot. The second subtype is the embolic stroke where a blood clot from a different location (carotid artery, vertebral artery, heart) finds its way to the brain.

This can be caused by heart arrhythmia (e.g., atrial fibrillation),
atherosclerosis in a neck artery, or a piece of plaque being broken off from another location.

There are two main subtypes of hemorrhagic stroke:

  • Intracerebral
  • Subarachnoid

An intracerebral stroke or hemorrhage (ICH) is bleeding inside the brain from a ruptured blood vessel. The excess blood damages the brain, and it can lead to brain herniation through the foramen magnum causing rapid death.

A subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs when a blood vessel on the surface of the brain ruptures. This usually occurs in the elderly, because their veins and arteries have stretched due to a shrunken brain. This may present as a severe headache.

High blood pressure, severe brain atherosclerosis, bleeding disorders, extremely low platelet counts, some autoimmune diseases, aneurysms, diabetes, illegal street drugs, brain injuries (boxing), use of Warfarin or blood thinning agents, birth control pills and smoking can cause strokes.

Strokes: Know the symptoms

Symptoms of a stroke usually develop rapidly, but sometimes develop over days. A person may lose function in a limb and have difficulty or inability in speaking. There may be facial drooping, non-symmetrical smile or tongue when the person extends his tongue. There is usually a severe headache. There may be blindness in one eye.

The sequela of a stroke may be temporary or permanent. A person’s long-term recovery depends upon how much of the brain has been damaged, and how quickly treatment begins.

If you notice any of these symptoms in you or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately. Since most strokes are not hemorrhagic, some physicians advise the potential stroke patient to take 3 aspirins (crush and swallow it), two teaspoons of cayenne pepper in a small amount of water, and a glass of wine. Doctors may give DMSO (not likely in almost all hospitals), blood thinning agents, blood pressure medication, or brain surgery may be needed in a hemorrhagic stroke.

Later if the patient survives, he needs to work on the causes of his stroke and start physical and occupational therapies. This is discussed in other lectures and blogs. I talk about how to reduce your weight and blood pressure, how to cure type 2 diabetes in three months, and natural ways to thin your blood. We have a few successful protocols to help people quit smoking. Stay tuned for next week’s article on how to treat high blood pressure.

No part of this blog may be reproduced in any form without written permission. The content on this blog was written by Jake Ames, MD, HMD and is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment by your primary physician.