Brain Stem Stroke: What You Need to Know

Dec 10, 2022 | Life After Stroke, Types of Stroke

It might be challenging to diagnose brain stem strokes since they can have complicated symptoms. Without the characteristic weakness on one side of the body that characterizes most strokes, a person may have vertigo, dizziness, and acute imbalance. Vertigo symptoms like imbalance or dizziness typically occur concurrently; stroke symptoms like dizziness do not. Additionally, a brain stem stroke can result in blurred vision, slurred speech, and a loss of consciousness.

The brainstem is a small body with a diameter of half an inch and handles all bodily functions of the central nervous system, including consciousness, blood pressure, and respiration. It is the center of the body’s whole motor control system. Brain stem strokes can hamper any or all of these abilities.

Chronic illnesses like high BP, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, heart disease, smoking, and other risk factors are the same for strokes in different parts of the brain as they are for strokes in the brain stem. A clot or a hemorrhage can also result in brain stem stroke. Rarer factors include arterial damage brought on by abrupt head or neck motions.

A stroke in the brain stem is not a simple matter. Read this blog to learn more about brain stem stroke syndromes and what to do next.

What Is Brain Stem Stroke?

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, whereas a brain stem stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain’s base is cut off. Numerous bodily processes, including heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure, may be impacted by this.

A stroke in the brain stem is also characterized by two primary types: Hemorrhagic and ischemic. The most typical kind of stroke is an ischemic one. Both types of stroke need medical intervention immediately to restore brainstem function. If brain cells go longer than a few minutes without oxygen, they will die. This situation can be fatal. When the brain’s blood supply is blocked, a stroke happens. The specific area of the brain that is damaged and the extent of that damage determines how a stroke affects the brain.

The brain stem is located above the spinal cord. It controls your heartbeat, breathing, and blood pressure. Your voice, swallowing, hearing, and eye movements are also under its control. The brain stem serves as a conduit for the numerous body parts to which other brain regions send their impulses. The survival of the brain stem is essential. A brain stem stroke poses a life-threatening threat by endangering basic bodily functioning.

What Causes a Brain Stem Stroke?

Anyone can have a stroke, but your risk increases as you age. Two-thirds of all strokes occur in those over 65 years of age. Your risk is raised if you have a family history of transient ischemic attack, often known as a mini-stroke or stroke.

Additionally, at greater risk are men and those who are Asian, African-American, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic in descent. However, women are more likely to pass away after a stroke than men.

The following conditions also raise your risk of stroke:

  • blood pressure is high
  • high diabetic high cholesterol
  • a cardiovascular condition
  • certain blood conditions
  • autoimmune disorders
  • cancer
  • pregnancy
  • risk factors for lifestyle

You cannot control some factors that enhance your risk of stroke. Many lifestyle decisions that can raise your risk of having a stroke, however, are not. These include taking birth control tablets and long-term hormone replacement therapy. Women over 35 who also smoke are at a higher risk than women who don’t and the general population.

The following actions raise your risk of stroke:

  • Smoking
  • Physical inactivity
  • substance use, including cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines, and alcohol abuse

What Are The Symptoms of a Brain Stem Stroke?

Some signs include:

  • Muscle tremor
  • Issues with vision and hearing
  • Sensory adjustments
  • Difficulties with balancing
  • The sensation of spinning while still
  • Difficulties breathing
  • Problems speaking, swallowing, and chewing

What Is The Treatment for a Brain Stem Stroke?

The treatment for brain stem stroke is the same as that performed for other stroke types. Medications are given for thinning the brain stem blood clots. Embolectomy is a surgery that involves inserting a tube through the blood clot to remove it or break it up. Other therapies include:

  • Physical therapy—to ease physical movements
  • Occupational therapy—to get on smoothly with daily chores
  • Speech therapy—for improving swallowing and speech
  • Psychological therapy—to provide mental support

How Serious Is a Stroke in The Brain Stem?

Brain stem strokes can hamper any or all of these abilities. Locked-in syndrome, when survivors can only move their eyes, can be brought on by more severe brain stem strokes. If a clot is formed because of a stroke in the brain stem, the sooner the blood flow is restored, the better the prognosis.

Can You Survive a Brain Stem Stroke?

It is possible to recover. After several weeks of healing, vertigo and double vision typically disappear in patients with mild to moderate brain stem strokes. The patient is frequently able to participate more actively in rehabilitation since brain stem strokes usually do not damage linguistic abilities.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from a Brain Stem Stroke?

report by Better Health indicates that one out of every three stroke victims has an impairment that permanently alters their lives. Long-term effects of stroke include Aphasia, depression, muscle weakness, and memory impairment. Neuroplasticity doesn’t fully recover from a stroke until around three months later. After that, a survivor can continue to practice for improvement and focus on regaining function, but those improvements can happen more gradually.

Brain Stem Stroke: Recovering from The Condition

Though brain stem stroke poses a dangerous threat to life, recovery possibilities exist. Preventing stroke takes a lot more than only taking treatment and medication. Lifestyle changes will go a long way in lowering the impact of brain stem stroke symptoms.

Consuming a nutrient-rich diet high in fruits, vegetables, and fish low in fat and sodium, regular physical activity, and avoiding smoking and drinking are steps you can take toward curbing the symptoms of brain stem stroke. Follow your doctor’s advice for managing your conditions if you have high BP, diabetes, high cholesterol, or other chronic illnesses.

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