The term ‘stroke’ refers to a sudden interruption in blood flow to part of the brain, leading to an alteration in brain function
Because of this interruption, not enough blood reaches the brain, which means that the oxygen and nutrients needed for proper brain function are also prevented from reaching the brain. In short, an initial problem with vascular function ultimately affects the tissue of the brain, which ceases to function correctly, leading to a range of symptoms depending on the affected area.
Effects of a stroke
- Weakness in the right side of the body
- Loss of sensation in the right side of the body
- Loss of sight in the right visual field
- Trouble with linguistic comprehension and expression
- Trouble with speech
- Substitution of words or syllables
- Mistakes when naming objects
- Trouble reading and writing
Axial cross section of the computed tomography (CT). The arrow shows an ischemic stroke in the left hemisphere (the dotted line indicates the separation between the left and right hemispheres).
- Weakness in the left side of the body
- Loss of sensation in the left side of the body
- Loss of sight in the left field of vision
- Lack of awareness of the left side of the body or surroundings
- Trouble maintaining attention, frequent distractions, loss of concentration
- Little awareness of current or future problems, in some cases without acknowledgment of the disease itself
- Behavioural problems (mainly impulsiveness and mood swings)
- Brainstem and cerebellum
- Loss of consciousness
- Difficulty swallowing
- Trouble speaking
- Double vision
- Instability when walking
- Loss of coordination
Axial cross section of the brain MRI. The arrow indicates a brainstem stroke (ischemic stroke in the right pontomesencephalic region)
Red flag symptoms
Rather than acting as a means of locating the damaged area, however, these symptoms often act as ‘red flags’. In short, the best course of action in response to the red flag symptoms is to see a specialist who can assess the severity of these symptoms.
Types of stroke
Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
Atherothrombotic stroke or thrombosis
Embolic stroke or embolism
Strokes in figures
Prevalence of brain damage
The cost of strokes
- Aphasia: The inability to use or understand language. Agraphia: The inability to write properly.
- Agnosia: Lost or reduced capacity to correctly recognize or perceive environmental stimuli.
- Alexia: The inability to read correctly.
- Aneurysm: An abnormally thin portion of an artery wall that forms a bloodfilled balloonlike bulge.
- Atherosclerosis: Damage to the artery wall caused by deposits of fat and other substances. Apathy: Behaviour characterized by a lack of emotion, motivation, and enthusiasm.
- Ataxia: Poor coordination of movements or unstable balance and gait.
- Diplopia: Double vision of a single object.
- Dysarthria: Poor articulation of words.
- Dysphagia: Trouble swallowing.
- Spasticity: An increase in muscle tone caused by an injury of the central nervous system that causes sustained muscle contraction and impedes movement.
- Hemiparesis: Weakness or loss of strength in one side of the body. In the case of complete loss of strength, the condition is called hemiplegia.
- Hemianopsia: Blindness affecting only half of the field of vision.
- Hemispatial neglect: A lack of selfperception and awareness of the care needed to orient oneself, act, or respond to stimuli or actions that occur in the environment.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An imaging technique that uses magnetic fields to view brain structures with greater precision and detail than is possible with CT.
- Tetraparesis: Trouble moving all four limbs. Complete inability to move all four limbs is called tetraplegia.
- Computerized tomography (CT): An imaging technique that uses Xrays to view brain structures and identify a stroke.