(Continued from page 1...)
Symptoms of stroke7-9
Strokes occur quickly and, as such, symptoms of stroke often appear suddenly without warning.
The main symptoms of stroke are as follows:
- Confusion, including trouble with speaking and understanding
- Headache, possibly with altered consciousness or vomiting
- Numbness of the face, arm or leg, particularly on one side of the body
- Trouble with seeing, in one or both eyes
- Trouble with walking, including dizziness and lack of co-ordination.
Strokes can lead to long-term problems. Depending on how quickly it is diagnosed and treated, the patient can experience temporary or permanent disabilities in the aftermath of a stroke. In addition to the persistence of the problems listed above, patients may also experience the following:
- Bladder or bowel control problems
- Pain in the hands and feet that gets worse with movement and temperature changes
- Paralysis or weakness on one or both sides of the body
- Trouble controlling or expressing emotions.
How to diagnose a stroke7,8,10
Strokes happen fast and will often occur before an individual can be seen by a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
The acronym F.A.S.T. is a way to remember the signs of stroke, and can help identify the onset of stroke more quickly:
- Face drooping: if the person tries to smile does one side of the face droop?
- Arm weakness: if the person tries to raise both their arms does one arm drift downward?
- Speech difficulty: if the person tries to repeat a simple phrase is their speech slurred or strange?
- Time to call 911: if any of these signs are observed, contact the emergency services.
NHS Choices (UK) are promoting a campaign for the FAST message throughout the UK
The faster a person with suspected stroke receives medical attention, the better their prognosis and the less likely they will be to experience lasting damage or death.
In order for a stroke patient to get the best diagnosis and treatment possible, they will need to be treated at a hospital within 3 hours of their symptoms first appearing.
Both ischemic strokes and hemorrhagic strokes require different kinds of treatment. Unfortunately, it is only possible to be sure of what type of stroke someone has had by giving them a brain scan in a hospital environment.
There are several different types of diagnostic tests that doctors can use in order to determine which type of stroke has occurred:11
CT scans of the brain are one of few ways to determine which type of stroke a person has had.
- Physical examination: a doctor will ask about the patient's symptoms and medical history. They may check blood pressure, listen to the carotid arteries in the neck and examine the blood vessels at the back of the eyes, all to check for indications of clotting
- Blood tests: a doctor may perform blood tests in order to find out how quickly the patient's blood clots, the levels of particular substances (including clotting factors) in the blood, and whether or not the patient has an infection
- CT scan: a series of X-rays that can show hemorrhages, strokes, tumors and other conditions within the brain
- MRI scan: radio waves and magnets create an image of the brain to detect damaged brain tissue
- Carotid ultrasound: an ultrasound scan to check the blood flow of the carotid arteries and to see if there is any plaque present
- Cerebral angiogram: dyes are injected into the brain's blood vessels to make them visible under X-ray, in order to give a detailed view of the brain and neck arteries
- Echocardiogram: a detailed image of the heart is created to check for any sources of clots that could have traveled to the brain to cause a stroke.
Recent developments on stroke diagnosis from MNT news
A large international study has associated weak grip strength with increased risk of heart attack and stroke, as well as increased risk of death from both cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular diseases.
A helmet that uses microwaves to examine brain tissue has been found to accurately diagnose the type of stroke that a patient has suffered. If developed, the device could lead to early and correct diagnosis of stroke and may improve treatment for what is currently the 5th highest cause of death in the US.
In these modern times, there is practically a smartphone app for all aspects of life. Now, new research has detailed two new apps that could help people detect epileptic seizures and receive better treatment for stroke.
Research scheduled for publication in the July 2016 issue of the journal Neurophotonics reveals proof of principle for the use of frequency-domain near-infrared spectroscopy (fdNIRS) to study brain oxygenation in the first few hours of stroke onset.
The researchers used the OxiplexTS(®) fdNIRS system to assess oxygen levels in the brains of cadavers, patients after a stroke and in healthy people and while the use of this technology is in a preliminary stage, it appears to hold promise for early detection and monitoring of stroke.18
On the final page, we look at treatments for stroke and how strokes can be prevented.