Warning signs of stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack) indicate a medical emergency and could include any sudden changes such as confusion, trouble speaking, numbness or weakness especially on one side of the body, dizziness, trouble walking, trouble seeing, or severe headache. When experiencing these symptoms get medical attention as soon as possible to minimize the damage that can be done to the brain. Medical personnel usually do a brain scan to find out what type of stroke and the severity of the damage. A clot or blockage could be what causes a stroke and there are medicines that can be given to the patient to reduce or improve the outcome of damage to the brain. The medicine will dissolve the clot or blockage helping to restore normal blood flow to the brain. Usually the patient is kept on the medication thereafter to reduce the risk of a future occurrence.
A small percentage of patients may have what is called a “bleeding stroke.” This type of episode is more serious and usually what causes a stroke of this magnitude is an aneurysm. If this is the case then surgery may have to be performed on the patient and the aneurysm removed. The severity of the problem often depends on the location of the problem in the brain. Having a problem in the brain stem is usually more serious because of the dense cells that regulate body functions including breathing and heart rate. A problem on the left side of the brain usually affects speech. A person who suffers from a problem located in the front part of the brain may have a large episode with fewer problems or suffer less damage. To determine the location of the episode, a physician usually runs a brain scan but may do an MRI as well.
For heart attack victims, aspirin is usually prescribed because it helps the blood flow by actually thinning the blood. It really depends on what causes a TIA as to the treatment so don’t take an aspirin until a brain scan has been performed. If the stroke is caused by an aneurysm taking an aspirin could actually make the bleeding worse. If what causes a stroke is a blockage or clot then an aspirin would certainly help. Consult a physician before self-medicating when experiencing warning signs of stroke. Don’t wait to seek treatment even if the symptoms are minor, several hours can make a huge difference because after that time most of the damage has already been done.
Oftentimes there is no pain associated with an attack so many patients ignore minor symptoms that aren’t terribly bothersome. Some patients experience warning signs of stroke several days before the actual episode occurs. Some of the symptoms can even last for weeks or longer before a major episode is experienced. Even minor symptoms may be causing damage to the brain so it is very important to see a doctor as soon as possible with even the slightest symptom. When damage occurs to the brain, it is usually permanent. It depends on the extent of the damage and the medical care received at the time of the occurrence. Getting medical care early on could certainly prevent the amount of damage within the brain.
After a stroke occurs and damage is done there is hope for patients who find themselves suffering with a disability or impairment. Since the damage to the brain affects parts of the body, there may be problems with motor functions, and if the episode is severe, a person could find that they need care for the rest of their life. It is important to ask for help not only through family, friends, and medical personnel but also through prayer. Scripture tells us that God will provide strength in times of trouble and healing for our bodies, “But unto you that fear my name shall the Son of righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall” (Malachi 4:2). Ask God for wisdom to recognize the warning signs of stroke and guidance to choose the best course of action.
Risk factors that can lead to an occurrence include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, being overweight, cigarette smoking, heavy use of alcoholic beverages, and a sedentary lifestyle. Risks are greater if a person is over 70 years of age and has a family history of occurrences. Prevention is very important to minimize risks by controlling diet, exercise, controlling high blood pressure and high blood sugar with medication, and discontinuing the use of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. Having one occurrence could mean another occurrence in the future but risks are minimized when lifestyle changes are made and continuously maintained. Become educated on what causes a stroke and the importance of seeking medical care if there is any indication of an episode. Talk to a physician about a personal plan and lifestyle changes to provide some positive results in preventing occurrences.