Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the primary risk for stroke. It is also called the “Silent Killer” as many times people do not have symptoms with hypertension. The normal blood pressure for an adult is approximately 120/80 mm Hg. The top range is called Systolic pressure. Systolic pressure is measured when the blood is forced through arteries of the heart during a contraction, and Diastolic pressure is measured when the heart relaxes and blood restores in the heart. Hypertension that is ignored or left untreated can lead to: blindness, heart disease, and kidney and heart failure. When high blood pressure occurs arteries can thicken which is known as atherosclerosis. This often leads to stroke.
87% of strokes are classified as Ischemic strokes according to the American Stroke Association. In Ischemic strokes blood flow to the brain is reduced. As a result, the brain does not receive enough oxygen and nutrients, and brain cells die. In Thrombotic strokes, warning signs appear such as Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs) where a person undergoes mini-strokes which usually last only a few minutes. In Thrombotic strokes, a blood clot develops within the artery of a brain which becomes blocked. When one’s carotid artery builds up with plaque (fat build-up), blood flow to the brain is diminished leading to stroke.
When hypertension occurs, high blood pressure causes blood to pool into pouches and ballooning of the arteries form because of this. These ballooning are called aneurysms. When an aneurysm bursts in the brain, a hemorrhagic stroke occurs. This stroke is the most threatening type of stroke and causes massive hemorrhaging and intracranial pressure to increase. Hemorrhagic strokes tend to be more deadly, as pressure is put on the brain from internal bleeding.
Symptoms or signals of a stroke are: intense headaches, nausea and vomiting, weakness and numbness often one side of the body within the extremities and face, visual disturbances (trouble with seeing), dizziness, disoriented speech, and coma. Diagnostic tests used to diagnose stroke are: MRI scans, CT Scans, and Cerebral Angiograms.
Another way a stroke can occur is when an emboli, or blood clot travels from a region in the body to an artery of the brain, causing constriction of blood flow. Treatment for stroke includes medications, surgery, Cerebral Angioplasty, and rehabilitation. Time is essential in stoke treatment. A medication known as a tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) can be used to treat clots within the timeframe of 3 hours of symptoms appearing during the beginning of a stroke. This may greatly reduce chances of the stroke becoming disabling. Strokes can be disabling and are the primary reason for disability in people in the US.