Derrame Cerebral can turn your life upside down as it did for Sarah. Sarah is a beautiful mom and an active bubbly teacher. She had so much to look forward because she was expecting her third child. One day on the way to her classroom Sarah felt dizzy and disoriented, and she was taken straight to the hospital. On the way, she had a second stroke which left her completely paralyzed on her right side.

Sarah says she felt wholly trapped within her body. Her husband and kids felt shattered. All the things Sarah took for granted were suddenly in turmoil. Help came in the form of Community Stroke Advisor Linda Williams; she helped Sarah to come out of the problematic situation. Today Sarah is the mother of two girls and a boy. She still has a bit of a problem while speaking and less energy than she used to. But she’s grateful that again she could walk and enjoy her days with her family.

For many, like Sarah, understanding Derrame Cerebral, or stroke, is essential.

WHAT IS DERRAME CEREBRAL?

Derrame Cerebral is the Spanish word for stroke. A stroke is your brain’s version of the heart attack. You may even call it a brain attack which kinda sounds like a bad zombie movie. But what's taking place is that your brain is not getting enough blood. To put it in another way your brain is not getting enough oxygen. If your brain is devoid of oxygen for long periods of time, the resultant damage may be more significant.

The brain needs 20% of oxygen for its function. It cannot store oxygen, so it requires a continuous supply of blood to nourish it with oxygen. You think, talk, sing, feel and dance with your brain’s help. The cells in your brain need oxygen to perform all these activities. If they are devoid of oxygen, they begin to die.

Brain cells start to perish if they don’t get blood for just 3-4 minutes. With each passing minute, you lose about 2 million brain cells. The longer the cells are oxygen starved the severe the damage to your brain. When the brain cells die during a stroke, you lose the functions which that area controls such as muscle control and memory.

SYMPTOMS OF STROKE

Pay attention to these symptoms if you think yourself or someone is having a stroke.

Has Problems Understanding Or Difficulty In Speaking

In this case, you may experience confusion, or your words may slur when you talk.

Problems In Vision

You may experience blackened or blurred and double vision.

Numbness Or Paralysis Of The Arms, Face Or Leg

Paralysis or numbness happens to one side of the body. The first thing to remember when this happens is to lift both your hands. Hold them steady. If one hand starts to fall, you may be having a stroke.

Trouble While Walking

In this case, you may feel dizzy, stumble, and mainly experience loss of balance and coordination.

A Headache

If you experience a severe headache, vomiting or altered consciousness, you may be having a stroke.

CAUSES OF STROKE

measuring the stomach of a man

The two leading causes of stroke are the blocked artery or a leaking blood vessel. For some people, the blood flow to the brain may experience a temporary disruption that usually doesn’t cause permanent damage. Listed below are the causes of stroke.

  • Tobacco
  • High blood pressure
  • Overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Medications such as blood thinning drugs, hormone therapy and low dose estrogen in birth control pills.
  • Strokes can run in families either through a genetic disorder or high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Men have a higher chance of getting a stroke. But women experience a stroke at a later age and may die as a result.
  • The chance of you having a stroke doubles every decade after the age of fifty-five.
  • African Americans, non-white Hispanic Americans and groups of people living in the Mediterranean, Middle East and Asia, may have a high risk of stroke.

TYPES OF STROKE

Ischemic stroke, Haemorrhagic stroke, and transient ischemic stroke are the three types of stroke.

ISCHEMIC STROKE

Clots are the main reason behind the Ischemic stroke. Moreover, it accounts for about eighty percent of all strokes. These types of strokes occur when the brain arteries become narrow or blocked which causes reduced blood flow to the brain. There are two kinds of Ischemic strokes, discussed below.

  • Embolic Stroke

Blood clots formed in your heart which are swept through your bloodstream to lodge in your brain are the leading cause of embolic stroke. An embolus is the other name for these types of the clot.

  • Thrombotic Stroke

When one of the arteries that give blood to your brain develops a blood clot, you may experience a thrombotic stroke. By and large, the clot may be due to the fatty deposits that build up in your arteries. In effect, it causes reduced blood flow or other artery conditions.

HEMORRHAGIC STROKE

A hemorrhagic stroke happens when a weak blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain. The leaked blood accumulates and begins to compress the brain tissue. Brain hemorrhages may occur due to hypertension, blood thinners, or weak spots in your blood vessels. Sometimes thin-walled blood vessels may get abnormally tangled and may rupture. This condition is called an arteriovenous malformation. A hemorrhagic stroke may also be due to aneurysms. It is the ballooning of a weak area in the blood vessel. If you don’t treat, it ruptures and bleeds into the brain.

The two types of this stroke are intracerebral hemorrhage and subarachnoid hemorrhage.

  • Intracerebral Hemorrhage

In this type of stroke a blood vessel bursts and spills blood into the surrounding tissues in your brain. The brain cells that are beyond this affected area are starved of blood and gets damaged.

  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

A subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs when an artery in the brain bursts and spills blood between the surface of your brain and skull. When this happens, you may feel a sudden, severe headache. In general, this type of illness occurs due to the bursting of a berry shaped aneurysm. After the hemorrhage vasospasm may arise in which the brain vessels may erratically widen and narrow which ultimately limits the blood supply to your brain.

TRANSIENT ISCHEMIC ATTACK

Also known as the ministroke, TIA causes temporary symptoms similar to that of a major stroke. It can last for less than five minutes, or go longer, but does not cause permanent damage to your brain.

 WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS OF DERRAME CEREBRAL?

checking the blood pressure

The first step in preventing a stroke is to have a thorough knowledge of it. There are some risk factors that you can treat or make lifestyle changes but others you can’t.

  • High Blood Pressure

Average blood pressure is below 120/80. If you’ve been told that you have high blood pressure, better work with your health care provider to minimize this risk.

  • Diabetes

This condition doubles your chances of stroke. So work with your physician to manage diabetes.

  • Smoking

Not only does smoking damages the blood vessels but it causes blockages in the blood vessels that may lead to a stroke.

  • Obesity

If you’re inactive or obese, it can significantly increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.

  • Transient Ischemic Attacks

These mini-strokes produce temporary stroke-like symptoms. So if you recognize and seek treatment these stroke like symptoms you can reduce the risk of a major stroke.

  • Carotid Artery Disease

A carotid artery is a major supplier of blood to the brain. It may get damaged due to plaque buildup inside the artery wall. This condition leads to a stroke.

  • Certain Blood Disorders

Sickle cell anemia can significantly increase stroke risk. The sickled cells tend to get stuck to blood vessel walls and may block arteries.

  • Arterial Fibrillation

In the case of atrial fibrillation the upper chambers of the heart quiver like a bowl of gelatin instead of beating in an organized way. This condition increases the risk of the stroke five times. Likewise, other types of heart diseases increase the risk of stroke.

  • Excessive Alcohol Intake

A basic average of one drink per day for women and more than two drinks a day for men may increase blood pressure.

EFFECTS OF SMOKE

burned cigarettes

The results of stroke mainly depend on the area of the blockage. Also, it depends on the amount of brain tissue affected. If the stroke occurs on the right side of the brain, your left side will be affected. Likewise, if the left side of your brain is damaged, it will impact your right side. When the stroke occurs in the brain stem, it can affect both the sides of the body leaving the person in a locked-in state. In this state, the person is unable to perform any activity under the neck.

The various complications of stroke may include the following.

  • Emotional problems
  • Paralysis
  • Difficulty talking or swallowing
  • Memory loss or difficulty in thinking
  • Pain
  • Reduced self-care ability
  • Changes in behavior

HOW TO PREVENT DERRAME CEREBRAL?

women doing workout

Listed below are seven ways to start reining in your risks to avoid stroke, even before the stroke has a chance of striking you.

  • Lower Blood Pressure

Reduce your salt intake to about half a teaspoon per day. Avoid cheese, burgers, ice cream, and other high cholesterol foods. Eat lots of fruits and veggies. Include fish in your diet. Exercise for about 30 minutes per day and quit smoking.

  • Reduce Weight

Depending on your activity and BMI level eat no more than 1500 to 2000 calories a day. Increase your amount of physical activity whether it be walking, playing tennis or golf.

  • Exercise

If possible try to start a fitness club with your friends. Take a walk after your breakfast. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. If you don’t have time to exercise, break it into short intervals of 10-minute sessions throughout the day.

  • Reduce Or Avoid Drinking

Avoid drinking at any cost, if you find it hard make red wine your first choice because it contains resveratrol which protects your heart and brain. Drink not more than one glass of alcohol per day and finally watch out your portion sizes.

  • Treat Diabetes

Monitor your blood sugar levels. Use medicines, exercise, and diet to keep your blood sugar under control.

  • Treat Atrial Fibrillation

See your doctor if you have shortness of breath or heart palpitations. Take anticoagulant drugs with your doctor’s advice to reduce the risk of stroke.

  • Quit Smoking

Try quit-smoking aids such as patches, nicotine pills, counseling or medicine. Ask your doctor for advice and don’t ever give up.

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR?

patient and doctor talking

Seek immediate medical attention when you see the first signs of stroke. Check whether one side of the face drops if the person smiles. Tell the person to raise both the arms, if one arm falls then that is a sign. Ask the person to repeat a phrase and see whether the speech gets slurred. Immediately call 911 if you see any of these symptoms. Remember each passing minute is precious to minimize the damage to the brain.

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