In the previous post, we covered the various contributors and presentations of a stroke. The brain, responsible for a multitude of complex as well as primitive functions, requires a continuous supply of oxygen and nutrients. Therefore, any interruption should be taken care of immediately to prevent permanent damage. Urgent treatment can minimize the long-term effects of a stroke, and prevent death.
Treatment of Ischemic stroke
In case of the blood supply being blocked due to a clot, there are two commonly used procedures. These are however, dependent on the time period since the onset of stroke, to be effective:
- tPA – this is an intravenous medicine that can dissolve the clot and minimize damage to brain tissue, when given within the first 3-4.5 hours
- Endovascular procedures – use of various devices such as a ‘stent retriever’ are put into use to mechanically remove the blood clot in certain patients. This too is in use only within the first 6 hours, and after giving the tPA.
Treatment of Hemorrhagic stroke
If the stroke originated from a brain bleed, the options for treatment include:
- Endovascular procedures – these can also be used in certain cases, such as in aneurysms (dangerous dilatations of blood vessels) or arteriovenous malformations in the brain, to prevent their rupture.
- Surgery – Surgical treatment aimed at stopping bleeding can be life-saving and minimize the damage due to the bleed. Other measures, such as placement of metal clips, can be used for certain aneurysms.
Recovery and Rehabilitation following a stroke
Emergency treatment is aimed at limiting the extent of damage in the brain. This means that a certain extent of brain damage is unavoidable. However, with persistent rehabilitative measures, one can go a long way in restoring strength and regaining function of the affected areas. As highlighted previously, the effect of a stroke depends on the site of interruption of blood circulation in the brain, and can range from paralysis and loss of sensation, to speech and balance difficulties. This would call for a multi-disciplinary approach to care. Depending on the condition, the following professionals’ assistance will be necessary:
- Physical Therapist
- Speech Therapist
- Occupational Therapist
Prevention of strokes
While scientific advances have helped achieve better outcomes after a stroke than ever before, it is still a trying and devastating event for stroke victims and their loved ones. The likelihood of suffering from a stroke can greatly reduce by adopting certain preventive measures, like:
- High blood pressure control
- Regular physical activity
- Good nutrition, including ample amount of wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, nuts and fish. Avoid processed food, sugars, and saturated fats.
- Weight loss
- Avoid smoking, alcohol and other drugs
- Blood sugar control
- Maintain healthy cholesterol levels
- Maintain quality sleep