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Stroke

Stroke is a serious and dangerous violation of cerebral circulation which results in the death of brain tissue because of the lack of oxygen and essential nutrients. It happens in case a blood vessel of the brain either ruptures causing the hemorrhagic stroke or becomes blocked by plaque or thrombus leading to the ischemic stroke (Encyclopedia of safety, 2013). It is obvious that when the part of the nerve cells die, the body cannot perform the functions which were the responsibility of the dead cells. It leads to serious violations such as paralysis, loss of speech, and others. The larger the area of necrosis in the brain is, the more serious the effects of a stroke would be (Encyclopedia of safety, 2013). Thus, it is a disorder with a large number of consequences and causes which should be prevented at the earliest stage.

Causes of Stroke

There are two types of stroke: hemorrhagic stroke (rupture of the vessel and hemorrhage) and ischemic stroke (blockage of the vessel) (Caplan, 2010). Both of the kinds develop against a background of hypertension, heart disease (atrial fibrillation, vices, and paroxysmal tachycardia), heart failure and cerebral atherosclerosis.

The most common cause of stroke is a cerebral thrombosis that is an occlusion of the artery that supplies brain by a blood clot (thrombus). Such a clot more often occurs due to the atherosclerosis (Bornstein, 2009). Another cause of thrombosis is the increased blood viscosity, which may be associated with congenital bleeding disorders as well as develop as a result of taking certain medications (Bornstein, 2009).

Thrombosis often occurs in the morning or at night, after undergoing surgery, or, more possibly, after a heart attack. It becomes the cause of many strokes that occur among the elderly people (Wityk & Llinas, 2007). Most often, it can be observed among the individuals who are overweight, addicted to smoking, and women who are protected by oral contraceptives (Caplan, 2010). Currently, it may happen to very young peope who take cocaine.

Another cause of stroke is cerebral hemorrhage – an internal bleeding in the brain (Bornstein, 2009). Artery of the brain affected by the disease may rupture (burst) and flood the surrounding brain tissue with the blood. The cells fed by this artery become unable to receive blood and oxygen.

It was already mentioned that stroke is not an independent disease and occurs as a complication of heart disease, problems with blood vessels, and blood. A variety of reasons can do harm to the vessel wall and provoke the narrowing of the arteries: hypertension, cholesterol deposits (atherosclerotic plaques), the effects of nicotine, high blood sugar.

Among the most common causes of the hemorrhagic stroke it is possible to allocate the gap of widened section of the artery (so called aneurysm - a congenital abnormality of the vessel) or rupture of an artery as a result of high blood pressure (Bornstein, 2009). Hemorrhage can happen at any age. It occurs mostly as a result of high blood pressure. This type of stroke can take place due to the hardening of the arteries, arrhythmias, diabetes, reduced or suddenly increased blood pressure, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, use of oral contraceptives (Bornstein, 2009).

Preventive Measures

Prevention of illness should affect the reasons of its occurrence. Unfortunately, not every factor may be influenced. Those than cannot be impacted are the age (the risk of stroke sharply increases after 55 years doubling every 10 years); gender (males have a greater tendency to suffer the disorder); and an innate predisposition (genetic factors) (Wityk & Llinas, 2007). The factors which may be affected are:

  • Diet. It should aim primarily at preventing the development of atherosclerosis. Appropriate diet means limiting foods containing cholesterol and animal fats. The diet should be high in protein, fruits, vegetables and cereals, vegetable oil. Sea fish is very useful due to the unsaturated fatty acids thhat prevent vascular damage (Bornstein, 2009).
  • Physical activity. This method should become a habit. It is a very good approach preventing obesity, diabetes, hypertension which are major risk factors. At the same time, it improves the properties of the blood reducing the chances of thrombosis. Moreover, the danger of the premature death is decreased by approximately 30% (Bornstein, 2009).
  • Smoking. It has been proved that it increases the risk of ischemic stroke in several ways. Nicotine causes vasoconstriction and stimulates the progression of atherosclerosis. Thus, smoking cessation turns out to be one of the main measures to prevent a stroke (Bornstein, 2009).
  • Diabetes mellitus. The disease is associated with an increased risk of vascular lesions and intensive development of atherosclerosis (Bornstein, 2009). In this regard, careful monitoring of blood sugar in diabetic patients is a vital necessity.
  • Hypertension and atherosclerosis. They are closely related to the disorder, so their treatment and precaution should be carried out in parallel (Bornstein, 2009). The important point is the regular measurement of the pressure with the preventive purpose.
  • Blood problems. Violation of the lipid composition of the blood leads to the development of atherosclerosis, which increases the risk of stroke. Upon the detection of the elevated levels of cholesterol and other factors indicating the possibility of the risk of the disease, it is necessary to switch to the antiatherosclerotic diet and, if necessary, to resort to taking drugs that normalize blood lipid (Bornstein, 2009).

The prevention of stroke and its recurrence lies in the correct mode of work and rest, a balanced diet and good sleep, normal psychological climate in the family and at work, timely treatment of cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease and hypertension (Encyclopedia of safety, 2013). One should remember that the disorder is considered to be one of the most vital public health issues in the United States since it is the third leading cause of death. In this regard, its prevention acquires a special importance.

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