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What is a Stroke?
What is a Stroke?

Stroke is a musculoskeletal disorder that occurs when a blood clot is formed inside the arteries that supply blood to the brain. Generally, stroke may be triggered by an injury inside the blood vessels. A blocked artery or the bursting of a blood vessel that supplies blood to any part of your brain results in a medical emergency known as stroke. Stroke is common in both men and women and stroke strike adults over age 50.

The two main blood vessels that supply blood to the brain are known as Carotid Artery and Vertebral Artery. They are primarily responsible to provide enough level of oxygen and glucose required for the smooth functioning of brain cells. The amount of blood required for the majority parts residing in both the cerebral hemispheres is supplied by the Internal Carotid Artery and its branches. If the occlusion or any types of injuries occur within this artery, it ends up in Carotid Territory Stroke. Also, the occlusion of blood vessels in the neck making clots to deposit in the brain results in Vertebrobasilar Stroke.

In most of the cases reported, stroke may be either due to the accumulation of fat or the formation of a clot within the blood vessels. In some rare cases, a clot, clump of blood, formed inside the heart passes to the brain in accordance with the heartbeat, get deposited in the brain’s blood vessel leading to stroke. When the patient exhibits symptoms of stroke only for a few minutes and causes no permanent damage, then the condition is referred to as Ministroke or Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), wherein it is an indication of an impending stroke. When you experience TIA, take it as a warning and go for correct medical treatments. Along with proper medication, incorporate strict diet policies and beneficial exercises into your lifestyle to prevent stroke happening in the future. Don’t let your negligence lead to casualties! Transient ischemic attacks usually affect people over age 60 and the probability that men and women get affected by TIA is the same. But studies show that men are at high risk for stroke than women. Many unbalanced lifestyle factors and medical factors can increase your chances for stroke. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and high snoring rate are the indications associated with stroke. Lifestyle risk factors such as heavy alcohol consumption, being obese, sedentary lifestyle, etc. are the treatable factors.

Stroke: An Overview

Symptoms of stroke can be concluded by the abnormalities related to memory, speech and movement. In human beings, memory, speech and movement are possible because of the Nervous System. The human nervous system is a communication system and is divided into Cerebrospinal and Autonomic Nervous System. Again, Cerebrospinal Nervous System comprises of Brain, Cranial Nerves, Spinal Cord, and Spinal Nerves and is concerned with the transmission of impulses from sense organs to the voluntary muscles. The human spine or backbone is composed of 33 vertebrae and each spinal nerve carries the motor, sensory, and autonomic signals that control our ability to think and act. If stroke occurs on the left part of the brain, then the right part of the human body is affected, and vice versa. So, one can assume from their inability to think, move and speak that their chances of having a stroke are higher. Occurring in two forms, partial and complete, Paralysis is the inability of the human body to perform bodily activities like speech and move. Any injury happens to the Brain, Spinal Cord, Cranial Nerves and other parts of the nervous system lead to a high-risk situation called stroke. At times, Myasthenia Gravis, neuromuscular diseases affecting the muscles may also cause stroke resulting in Disuse atrophy, a condition where the strength of muscles decreases at an alarming rate.

If the weakness of the face, arm, and leg muscles results in the paralysis of one side of the body, then the medical condition is known as Hemiplegia. If the lower limbs of the human body get paralyzed due to any spinal cord injury, the condition is referred to as Paraplegia and Diplegia refer to the paralysis of symmetrical body parts.

Top Reasons for Paralysis

  • Brain injury and spinal cord injury occurred as a part of any (road) accident
  • Destruction of Myelin sheath due to Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Poliomyelitis, paralysis caused by Poliovirus

Paralysis can be an after-effect of stroke. The obstruction in blood flow to a certain part of the brain prevents oxygen supply into that brain part known as Infarction. This condition causes the paralysis of human body parts controlled by that specific part of the brain. The primary cause of obstruction to the flow of blood or Infarction or cerebral embolism is mainly due to the uncontrollable shrinking of blood vessels, or blood disorders, or accumulation of fat/bacteria, or even the presence of air bubbles in the blood.

Leading Causes of Stroke

  • Impurities in the blood get accumulated on the walls of the blood vessel and cause low blood pressure and in turn stroke.
  • High blood pressure, readings greater than 120/80 mm Hg, which causes Arteriosclerosis often results in stroke.
  • Heart valve diseases that disturb the flow of blood in the correct direction can cause stroke.

High Blood Pressure Dangers and Stroke

Undoubtedly, uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to stroke. Hypertension or High blood pressure can damage your arteries by weakening or even damaging the blood vessels in the brain. This makes blood vessels to become narrow, and then rupture or finally leaking. Bleeding inside the brain can be first identified by a severe headache. As you get older, blood vessels become stiffer and less elastic. This nature of blood vessels makes it difficult to do quick movements like stand up, sit down, etc. and such people are at high risks for convulsion or dizziness. If the blood circulation stops for more than 20 seconds, Irreversible Damage occurs, where the normal physical condition of the body cannot be regained.

In order to fight against this condition, the body has developed its own natural defence mechanism known as Circle of Willis, in which a ring-like structure, circulatory anastomosis, is formed to supply blood to the brain. Mainly, blood is supplied to the brain via two major blood vessels. They are Common Carotid Arteries and Vertebral Arteries. 60% of blood required for the functioning of the brain is supplied by the right and left Carotid Arteries and Vertebral Arteries. Remaining 40% is supplied through collateral circulation by smaller arteries. As a result, in rare cases, stroke will be prevented by the human body as a part of self-defense mechanism by producing enzymes that can dilute blood or fat clots. Such strokes happen only for a few minutes and are known as Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) and patients will recover from the situation leaving no disabilities known as Spontaneous Recovery.

The brain has specific centres to control our memory, auditory perception and speech, functions of various organs including arms and legs etc. When a clot occurs inside the brain, the organs controlled by the part of the brain will be subjected to different inabilities making the day to day activities of the patients miserable.

Symptoms of Stroke in Men and Women

The human brain has individual control centres for controlling processes like thinking, learning, speech, urination and release of stool. Any damage to the parts that control different functionalities of a human body affects the execution of regular and normal bodily functionalities, making the life of patients distressing.

20 Warning Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

Stroke may happen suddenly or even gradually. Recognizing stroke early can definitely save a life!

Discover major symptoms and warning signs of stroke to prevent death or disabilities:

  1. Severe headache without a cause like migraine, tension, high temperature, long-distance journeys, etc., is one of the predominant signs of stroke.
  2. General weakness or tiredness of body, fingertips, face etc. or more precisely, the ‘FAST’ symptom, where F stands for Face drooping, A for Arm weakness, S for Speech difficulty and T means Time to call.
  3. Numbness/insensibility or paralysis of any part of the body, especially on one side.
  4. Loss of balance or problems while walking occurs in case of a Cerebellar Stroke.
  5. Inability to raise both the hands due to stiffness.
  6. Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar makes patients exhibit many Behavioral changes and contributes to cerebellar stroke.
  7. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can increase the risk of stroke.
  8. Involuntary eye movements or blurred vision and facial weakness including difficulty breathing, smiling, drinking, swallowing, etc.
  9. Double vision, visualizing double images is the difficulty of eyes to work as a pair is a hidden symptom that leads to stroke.
  10. Temporary blindness appearing like a curtain coming down vertically and gradually regaining its ability to see is a critical alert indicating a severe stroke.
  11. People with mental disorders, depression, anxiety, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) can have an increased risk of stroke.
  12. Hallucination
  13. Excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of having stroke.
  14. Anaemia (reduced RBCs) has a tight association with stroke.
  15. Long-term stress or tension boosts stroke hormones
  16. Vitamin deficiency has a close link with stroke, especially Vitamin B12.
  17. Middle ear disorders
  18. Tumours in the brain
  19. Parkinson’s disease raises the risk of stroke.
  20. Cough food particles out through the nose while eating.

Avoiding Stroke through Ayurveda

Adopting Ayurvedic treatments can prevent stroke by improving blood circulation and the formation of blood clots inside the brain. Ayurveda is now considered as a promising healthcare system for the treatment of stroke and associated disabilities. But, treatment strategies for stroke caused by anaemia may not yield good results as expected, According to Ayurveda. In the modern medical system, Thrombolytic Therapy is used to breakdown dangerous clots in blood vessels, thereby preventing damages to other organs and tissues. But there is no proven therapies and medication available in the modern medical system to repair the ruptured blood vessels and regenerate new brain cells. The first and foremost prevention method is to incorporate effective control mechanisms to handle blood pressure variations among patients, especially for patients suffering from acute heart diseases. If patients experience coughing while inhaling, food particles may enter their lungs, infect the airways and cause pneumonia. Swelling in the brain also increases the pressure inside of the skull and causes a traumatic condition known as stroke.

Ayurveda offers the most comprehensive treatment procedures to control high blood pressure, for example, “Shadharanam”. To treat the physical disabilities occurred as an outcome of stroke, other prominent treatment programs such as Sneha Vasti, Kashaya Vasti or Kashaya Basti and Nasyam are used in Ayurveda. Moreover, a special kind of Ayurvedic therapy called Dhanyamla Dhara is highly recommended by Ayurvedic experts to improve blood circulation and thereby controlling blood pressure. Other Ayurvedic therapies that guarantee overall wellness for stroke patients include:

  • Pathra podala swedham
  • Abyangam
  • Pizhichil (Thailadhara)
  • Njavarakizhi
  • Shirovasthi
  • Dhara
  • Thalam

Ayurvedic Medicated Herbal oils and Ayurvedic formulation used for treating disorders in stroke survivors include:

Depending on the physical status of stroke survivors, embrace Ayurvedic treatments and therapies to treat facial palsy, mobility, vision and other physical disabilities. If patients are experiencing weakness in hands and legs, start practising Abhyangam to regain their strength. Adopting a healthy lifestyle and exercises prescribed by Ayurvedic experts help you enhance your life!

ayurveda dr muraleedharan author

Written by: Prof. Dr. K. MuraleedharanPillai
Chief Physician, Ayursopanam
Rtd. Principal

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What is a Stroke?