Different Strokes for Different Folks
The three types of strokes, their signs and symptoms, and who is most at risk.
A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut-off or interrupted <in some way. Without this essential blood-flow, brain cells begin to die causing effects to the body that may be permanently disabling and possibly life threatening.
When brain cells die due to stroke, symptoms occur in the parts of the body that those particular brain cells once controlled. Symptoms that someone is having a stroke include: facial paralysis—which occurs when the facial muscles on one side of the face weaken making the cheek and eyelid droop and the person can no longer smile properly—slurred speech, blurred vision, dizziness, weakness, difficulty swallowing, loss of balance, paralysis of one side of the body, a sudden and severe headache, confusion, loss of arm movement and/or loss of consciousness.
There are three main types of strokes:
Ischemic stroke occurs as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. It accounts for 87% of all stroke cases.
Hemorrhagic stroke A hemorrhagic stroke is when either a brain aneurysm bursts or a weakened blood vessel leaks. Blood spills into or around the brain and creates swelling and pressure, damaging cells and tissue in the brain. There are two types of hemorrhagic strokes called intracerebal and subarachnoid.
TIA(transient ischemic attack) is caused by a temporary clot. Often called a “mini stroke”, these warning strokes should be taken very seriously.
Some people falsely believe that strokes only occur in older adults. The truth is, strokes can occur at any age with about 10-12% of stroke patients being under the age of 45. Even children can experience strokes; in fact 1 in 7 strokes occur in adolescents and young adults, with children being most likely to experience ischemic strokes.
Strokes are for the most part preventable. It is estimated that over 80% of strokes can actually be prevented by identifying and eliminating risk factors. There are certain risks factors such as gender, age, family history and ethnicity which are not preventable however. For instance, the rate of stroke in black women is almost twice that of white women and black women also have a higher risk of dying from a stroke than white women. This unfortunate statistic is due to the higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, sickle-cell anemia and obesity among black women. Making lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthier, staying active and controlling blood pressure can greatly decrease stroke risk.
The most effective way to help someone who is suffering from a stroke is by using the acronym FAST.
F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is his or her speech slurred or strange?
T—Time: If you observe any of these signs, call for help immediately. (CDC.gov)
Stroke victims who receive help within three hours stand the best chance of full recovery.
Clopidogrel and Ticagrelor
When the body is injured, platelets group together to form clots and promote healing. This is usually a good thing; however, when the injury comes from within the body, (for instance when an artery gets blocked), clot-forming platelets can be dangerous. That’s where anti-platelet drugs come in. These powerful drugs prevent the forming of clots and are most often prescribed after a patient has suffered a heart attack, stroke, unstable angina or a heart operation.
Clopidogrel is a prescription antiplatelet drug that reduces a patient’s risk of blood clots significantly. It is also known as PLAVIX or GREPID. Clopidogrel comes as a 70mg, once daily tablet. For a small number of patients, Clopidogrel may cause side effects such as bleeding, vomiting or weakness. Patients with stomach ulcers, have liver or kidney problems, hemophilia are pregnant or breastfeeding, should consult their doctor before taking Clopidogrel.
Ticagrelor is an antiplatelet medicine used to prevent clots from forming in blood vessels for people with acute coronary syndrome or who have previously had a heart attack. Ticagrelor is prescribed as a 90mg, twice daily tablet for up to 12 months. Typical side effects of this drug include bleeding and shortness of breath. The most common brand names of Ticagrelor are Brilique or Brilinta. Before taking Ticagrelor, tell your doctor if you have or have ever had any type of lung disease such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma.