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Stroke (Brain Attack) by Vera Kozlova

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According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, a stroke is when a torn blood vessel in the brain keeps blood from getting to parts of the brain. Strokes are serious and can cause brain damage, disability, or even death. There are two main types which are ischemic and hemorrhagic. The most common one is ischemic. In an ischemic stroke, an artery that gives oxygen to the brain becomes blocked. In a hemorrhagic stroke, an artery in the brain leaks blood.

There are signs of a stroke to hint that one is coming. They are sudden and sometimes severe. Some signs and symptoms of a stroke are sudden weakness, numbness or disability to move parts of the body, and trouble talking or understanding. Some other signs could be trouble seeing, problems breathing, dizziness, bad balance or coordination. Also, loss of consciousness and severe headaches.

What occurs when a stroke happens? In an ischemic stroke, oxygen-rich blood to the brain becomes blocked. Plaque builds up on the inner walls of arteries. Sudden bleeding in the brain is what occurs in a hemorrhagic stroke. This causes the brain to swell.

This is how to diagnose a stroke: a doctor will ask the family about the patient’s risk factors. For example, high blood pressure, smoking, heart disease, and a personal or family history of stroke. During the physical exam, he will check mental alertness, coordination, and balance. Other things tested are numbness in the face, arms, and legs; confusion; trouble talking and seeing.

A stroke can be treated by medicines and medical procedures. Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is a medicine that is injected into a vein in the arm. Another medicine is an antiplatelet medicine. It helps stop platelets from forming blood clots. Lastly, a doctor can subscribe to anticoagulants, or “blood thinners”. They help keep blood clots from getting bigger and prevent new ones from forming.

A stroke is serious, but it can be prevented. Quitting smoking or using tobacco will help because it can damage and tighten blood vessels. Healthy diets are also important. Creating a weight-loss program if you are overweight or obese helps reduce the risk of a stroke. Lastly, physical activity helps improve your health and also reduces the risk of strokes.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2011). What is a stroke? Retrieved Jan. 18, 2012 from


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