Definition of Stroke, Signs & symptoms and diagnosis & treatment

Definition of Stroke, Signs & symptoms and diagnosis & treatment

Table of Content

1. Definition of stroke
2. Types of stroke
3. Signs & symptoms of stroke
4. Causes of stroke
5. Stroke risk factors
6. Stroke diagnosis & treatment
7. Stroke treatment at home
8. Stroke complications

Definition of stroke

Stroke is a health problem that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or completely stopped, so that brain tissue is deprived of oxygen and nutrients. As a result, in a matter of minutes, brain cells begin to die.

This condition is classified as a serious disease and can be life-threatening, therefore it requires immediate medical attention. Prompt and appropriate help can reduce the risk of brain damage and other complications.

Symptoms of stroke vary widely, ranging from mild to severe, such as paralysis or numbness on one side of the face or body. There are also other symptoms of this disease such as headaches, weakness, problems with vision, difficulty speaking and understanding other people’s speech.

How common is this disease?
This disease can be experienced by anyone, from stroke in children to the elderly. To prevent this, you can minimize the risk factors of this condition. Please discuss with your doctor for more information.

Types of stroke

After understanding what a stroke is and its full definition, now is the time to understand some of the types of these conditions, including:

1. Ischemic stroke

Ischemic stroke

Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke compared to other types of stroke . This disease occurs when the blood vessels in the brain are narrowed or blocked, so that blood flow to the brain is blocked.

2. Hemorrhagic stroke

Hemorrhagic stroke

Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or bursts. This condition starts with weakened blood vessels, then ruptures and spills blood around them.

This leak causes a buildup of blood that pushes against the surrounding brain tissue. Death or a long coma will occur if the bleeding continues. Overview of Ischemic and Hemorrhagic Stroke | Clinical Neurology Lecturio Medical

Hemorrhagic stroke is divided into two types:

1. Intracerebral hemorrhage: ie bleeding that occurs when an artery in the head bursts and causes bleeding in the brain. Usually, this condition occurs due to high blood pressure.
2. Subarachnoid hemorrhage: which is bleeding that occurs on the surface of the brain. There are three layers that line the brain, and this bleeding occurs between the layer closest to the brain and the second layer.

3. Light stroke

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) or often called a minor stroke is a short-term blood loss to the nervous system, usually less than 24 hours or even just a few minutes.

This condition occurs when a blood clot or clot blocks the flow of blood in the central nervous system. Blood clots only occur temporarily so they do not cause tissue damage.

However, you are at a higher risk if you have had a transient ischemic attack.

Signs & symptoms of stroke

Symptoms of a stroke tend to occur suddenly and only always attack one side of the body. It gets worse over a period of 24 to 72 hours. Common symptoms include:

1. Sudden headache.
2. Loss of balance, problems with walking.
3. Fatigue.
4. Loss of consciousness or coma.
5. Vertigo and dizziness.
6. Blurred and black vision.
7. Weakness or numbness on one side of the body in the face, hands, feet.
8. Problems with speech and hearing.

There may be signs and symptoms of a stroke that are not listed above. If you have concerns about a particular symptom, consult your doctor.

When should you see a doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you experience any of the following stroke symptoms:

1. Numbness, helplessness, or a sudden tingling or tingling feeling or loss of ability to move the face, arm, or leg, especially if it occurs on only one side of the body.
2. Sudden change in vision.
3. It’s hard not even to speak.
4. Sudden dizziness and difficulty understanding simple sentences.
5. Problems with walking and balancing the body.
6. Severe headache that has never been felt before.
7. You are taking aspirin or medicines that inhibit blood clotting but you notice signs of bleeding.
8. Choking, due to food falling into the throat.
9. Have signs of blood clots in the veins such as: redness, heat, and pain in certain areas of your arms or legs.
10. The arms and legs become increasingly stiff and cannot be stretched (spasticity)

Recognize the symptoms of stroke in others

If a person has a tendency to develop stroke symptoms, you should pay attention to their activities to look after them and take them to the doctor as soon as possible;

1. Ask the person to smile. Check if one side of his face is not reacting
2. Ask the person to raise both hands. Notice when there is one hand slipping down.
3. Ask the person to repeat simple sentences. Check for any unclear words and whether the sentences can be repeated correctly.

You also need to provide first aid to stroke patients if a sudden attack occurs.

Causes of stroke

The cause of stroke usually depends on the type. The following are causes that you can study by type.

Causes of ischemic stroke

There are three types of conditions that can cause an ischemic stroke, such as:

Plaque buildup

The buildup of plaque on the walls of arteries is not only causing a heart attack but other conditions such as atherosclerosis. This buildup of plaque causes the arteries to narrow, thereby blocking blood flow to tissues or organs in the body.

This plaque buildup can also occur in the arteries in the brain and neck. If there is a blockage due to plaque that builds up in the arteries both in the brain and in the neck, the patient will have an ischemic stroke.

Blood clots occur

In addition to clogging, plaque contained in the arteries can also burst. Blood cells around the ruptured plaque will stick together and form blood clots. Clotted blood can also clog arteries.

Although blood clots occur in other parts of the body, they can travel to the brain. This condition is also known as an embolic stroke.

This condition can be caused by problems with blood disorders such as atrial fibrillation and sickle cell disease which trigger blood clots and cause strokes.

Causes of hemorrhagic stroke

Here are some conditions that cause hemorrhagic stroke:


High blood pressure or hypertension is the most common cause of hemorrhagic stroke. Hypertension can occur due to abnormalities or problems with the kidneys, an unhealthy lifestyle, or the consumption of certain drugs.


An aneurysm is an inflammation or swelling of the wall of an artery located inside the brain. This condition causes the walls of the arteries to thin and become weak, so inflammation occurs.

Aneurysms can be present at birth (congenital) or develop over time, especially if you have a history of hypertension.

Arterial malformation (AVM)

Arterial malformation or AVM is a condition where there is an abnormality in the blood vessels. Actually, this disorder can occur in any part of the body, including the brain.

AVM is usually present at birth. If the AVM is located in the brain, this condition is at risk of causing bleeding.

Anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medication

Some people who take blood-thinning drugs to reduce the risk of blood clots actually have the potential for bleeding in the brain.

Causes of minor stroke

This condition occurs when plaque or blood clots in arteries located in the central nervous system block the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain.

This condition causes blood flow to the brain to become blocked and cause a stroke that occurs briefly.

Stroke risk factors

There are many risk factors for stroke:

Lifestyle risk factors

1. Overweight or obesity.
2. Laziness habit.
3. Too much alcohol.
4. Using illegal drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine.

Medical risk factors

1. High blood pressure.
2. Smoking habits or exposure to secondhand smoke (passive smoking).
3. High cholesterol.
4. Diabetes.
5. Sleep disturbances.
6. Heart disease.
7. Family medical history of stroke, heart attack, or minor stroke.
8. COVID-19 infection.
9. The use of anticoagulant drugs (blood thinners) in excess or outside the rules recommended by the doctor.

Other factors

1. Over 55 years of age.
2. Men have a higher risk than women.
3. Using birth control pills.

Not having the risk factors as above does not mean you can not have a stroke. These factors are for reference only. You should consult your doctor for a more detailed explanation.

Stroke diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor.

There are several types of tests that doctors usually do to diagnose a stroke, including:

1. Physical examination.
2. Blood test.
3. CT Scan.
4. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
5. Carotid ultrasound.
6. Cerebral angiogram.
7. Echocardiogram.

What are the stroke treatment options?

Just like the symptoms and causes, options for stroke treatment also differ based on the type.

Ischemic stroke treatment

Treatment that can be done, among others:

1. Drug use

The main treatment that is usually given to treat ischemic stroke is the administration of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). These stroke medications can break up blood clots that block blood flow to the brain.

Usually, the doctor will give this drug by injecting it into a vein in the patient’s arm. This drug can work effectively if given within a period of approximately three hours when symptoms appear.

However, if you cannot accept treatment with tPA, your doctor may prescribe an anticoagulant or blood-thinning medication such as aspirin or clopidrogrel.

The function of this drug is to stop the formation of blood clots or prevent them from getting bigger. The side effect of using this drug is bleeding.

2. Medical procedures

In addition to medication, you can also undergo medical procedures to open blocked arteries and restore blood flow to the brain. There are several ways to do this:

1. Thrombectomy, to remove blood clots from blood vessels.
2. Angioplasty and stenting procedures, to open clogged arteries.

Treatment for hemorrhagic stroke

Possible treatments, include:

1. Drug use

Medicines for high blood pressure are usually given by doctors to help lower blood pressure and stretch the blood vessels in the brain.

You will also be advised to stop taking any anticoagulant or blood-thinning medications that have the potential to trigger bleeding.

2. Medical procedures

There are also several medical procedures that you can do to treat hemorrhagic stroke, such as:

1. Blood transfusion.
2. Aneurysm clipping, to prevent aneurysms from blood vessels in the brain.
3. Coil embolization, to block blood flow or prevent aneurysms.
4. Drains excess fluid in the brain.
5. Surgery or radiation to remove or shrink arteriovenous malformations.
6. Surgery to remove accumulated blood.
7. Surgery to temporarily remove part of the skull if the patient has swelling.

Meanwhile, treatment for minor stroke is usually almost the same as treatment for ischemic stroke.

Stroke treatment at home

What are some lifestyle changes or stroke medications that can be done at home?

Here are lifestyles and home treatments that can help you cope with this disease:

1. Stop smoking.
2. Take the medicines given by your doctor.
3. Exercise according to your doctor’s instructions.
4. Eat foods that contain less fat and reduce drinking alcohol at least once a day.
5. Take control of your blood pressure, cholesterol level and diabetes.

Stroke complications

If this condition is not treated immediately, a stroke can cause several other health problems. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, here are some possible complications of stroke :

1. Blood clots

Difficulty in being active as usual for long periods of time increases the patient’s potential for blood clots to form in the veins in the leg area.

In fact, these blood clots can move to other organs, such as the lungs. However, this condition can be prevented by using medications or medical aids that can put pressure on the calf to help the blood in the area keep flowing.

2. Difficulty speaking

If this condition affects the muscles used for speech, the patient may have difficulty speaking or communicating normally.

3. Loss of bladder or bowel control

In certain cases, a stroke can attack the muscles used to urinate and regulate bowel movements. The patient may have to use a catheter so that he can urinate independently as usual.

However, patients are expected to always be vigilant, because the use of a catheter can also trigger urinary tract infections.

4. Osteoporosis

This condition can also trigger osteoporosis, although it only occurs on one side of the body. To prevent bone loss, doctors will advise patients to undergo physical activity as part of rehabilitation.

5. Loss of ability to see, hear, or touch

The ability to feel pain or temperature, both cold and hot, may be affected after a stroke. Patients may also experience visual or hearing impairments so that they cannot see and hear as well as they used to.

6. Muscle weakness

This disease can cause stiffness or weakness in the muscles. This condition certainly makes it difficult for the patient to stand or walk as usual. In fact, the patient may not be able to maintain balance or control the muscles in the body.

7. Difficulty chewing and pneumonia

The disease may also affect the muscles normally used for chewing, so the patient may have difficulty eating or drinking.

In fact, this condition increases the patient’s risk of introducing food or drink into the respiratory tract. This can lead to pneumonia.

8. Communication and thinking problems

This condition may interfere with the patient’s ability to focus on activities or make decisions. This disease also increases the patient’s risk of developing dementia.

9. Seizures

Patients often experience seizures within a few weeks of having a stroke. However, these complications are less likely as time goes on.

10. Swelling of the brain

After a stroke, fluid builds up in the brain and skull causing swelling.

If you have any questions, consult a doctor for the best solution for your problem.

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