Ischemic Stroke: Overview, Causes, Early Signs And Medication

Sep 19, 2022 | hand therapy

How often have you heard the news about someone affected by a stroke? Probably multiple times. You would have a vague idea about stroke symptoms from a news article or information about a friend or a relative who would have been through the implications of stroke. You would have probably wondered how it could be to turn speechless or not be able to move your body for some time. 

Proper knowledge about stroke and following the ways to prevent it can prevent you or any of your family from suffering from severe implications. As scary as it can be, each of us needs to be aware of the medical condition and the reasons that lead to it to take extra care and precaution. This article will help better understand stroke, its causes, risks, different stroke types, prevention methods, and available medications.

Ischemic Stroke: An Overview

To better understand what ischemic stroke is, it is essential to understand what stroke is. A stroke is a medical condition occurring when there is a disruption in the blood supply to the brain. The disruption also affects brain activity when there is not enough supply of oxygen or nutrients to the brain. Stroke can occur in two ways: one when there is a blood clot and the other when there is a rupture in a blood vessel, and it starts bleeding. 

What is an Ischemic Stroke?

An ischemic stroke is a commonly occurring medical condition that happens when a fat residue builds up, or a blood clot in blood vessels eventually blocks the blood supply to the brain. The block may be one of the blood vessels connecting the brain. The block of blood flow to the brain is a condition called ischemia. If the disruption of blood supply is for a short time, they are called transient ischemic attacks or TIAs.

Ischemic Stroke vs Hemorrhagic Stroke

While ischemic stroke occurs primarily due to blocks in blood vessels, hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel is ruptured, causing a leak of blood into the brain. Ischemic strokes can sometimes lead to a brain hemorrhage when the blood vessel bursts due to the pressure in the blood vessel due to a block.

What Is The Main Cause of Ischemic Stroke?

There is not just one cause that leads to ischemic stroke, and the main causes that contribute are listed below:

  • Weight Gain or obesity
  • No physical activity
  • Aging: People above 50
  • Heavy drinking
  • Smoking and use of drugs (cocaine and methamphetamine etc.)
  • High cholesterol, BP, and diabetes
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Heart diseases
  • Genetic factors of having a direct family member with stroke, or heart attacks
  • Hormone therapies including  estrogen or use of birth control pills
  • COVID-19 infection 

Ischemic stroke vs hemorrhagic stroke causes are almost the same except for brain hemorrhages that can be caused due to fatal accidents. 

What Happens After An Ischemic Stroke?

The impact of stroke is primarily on the brain cells and the region where there is a rupture or damage of blood vessels. Noting the time when the ischemic stroke symptoms begin can guide your doctor to advise necessary precautions and medication. There are little to no differences in ischemic stroke vs hemorrhagic stroke symptoms. Some of the early signs and symptoms may include:

  • Trouble in speaking and moving- a stroke on the right side of the brain affects the opposite side of the body. So a person’s left side of the body will be paralyzed.
  • Abnormality in behavior or body language- loss of muscle control will affect a person’s mobility.
  • Numbness in different body parts – One side of the body feels numb or unable to move some parts of the body.
  • Problems in vision: No clarity in sight and blurriness.
  • Headache: Sudden pain in one side of the head or other parts for no reason.
  • Fainting: Sudden memory loss or loss of consciousness accompanied by dizziness.

What Are The Three Kinds of Ischemic Stroke?

The three kinds of ischemic strokes are: 

  • Thrombotic stroke – a stroke type in which blood clots develop in the blood vessels in the brain.
  • Embolic stroke – a stroke type in which blood clots develop elsewhere in the body and then travel to the blood vessels in the brain through the bloodstream.
  • Transient ischemic attack (Mini-stroke): there is a short time disruption in the supply of blood which reconciles later. These little disruptions have the possibility of turning into a major stroke later.

What Are The Warning Signs of An Ischemic Stroke?

Contact your doctor when you: 

  • Feel a sudden numbness in your body
  • Have trouble walking or moving a part of the body or face, arm, or leg 
  • Have trouble speaking or understanding other people while they speak
  • Have trouble with vision in the eye/eyes
  • Loss of consciousness or feeling dizzy 
  • Have a severe headache without a cause
  • Feeling nauseous or having a vomiting tendency

Ischemic Stroke: Treatment And Prevention

Being aware of the symptoms and risk factors of ischemic stroke can be the best way for you to avoid the situations that lead to the medical condition. Taking proper preventive steps and following the doctor’s advice can make a significant difference in fighting the symptoms of ischemic stroke.

How to Prevent Ischemic Stroke?

Following are the steps you can take toward preventing ischemic stroke:

  • Controlling BP, cholesterol and diabetes with proper medication.
  • Quit smoking and using other drugs
  • Following a healthy diet and supplements for deficiencies.
  • Regular physical activity for maintaining the right weight. 
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation
  • Treating sleep disorder

What are the treatments administered for ischemic stroke?

Doctors may prescribe medications that may include antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix) and anticoagulants. Heparin, dabigatran (Pradaxa), and edoxaban (Savaysa etc. acting as blood thinners and remove blood clots. Slower-acting warfarin (Jantoven) is a blood thinner to ensure smooth blood flow throughout the body. 

Other treatments apart from the drugs are decided by the doctors by considering various factors like bleeding, the intensity of rupture, etc. All medications and treatments are applicable for ischemic stroke vs hemorrhagic stroke treatment methods. The surgical AVM method is used exclusively for treating hemorrhages. The treatments for ischemic stroke  include:

  • An IV injection of tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) is a standard procedure administered for ischemic stroke by injecting TPA, usually through a vein in the arm. This injection fixes the blood flow and sometimes helps a person recover fully from stroke symptoms. The injection treatment to dissolve the blood clot has to be given through the vein within 4.5 hours from when symptoms first began. 
  • Other endovascular procedures include treatments to treat the blocked blood vessel directly. Doctors will use a stent reliever device to directly dissolve the blood clot from the blood vessel in the brain. This treatment is mainly done for the ones with large clots that cannot be treated with TPA. 
  • Other procedures may be suggested by doctors to decrease the chances of having a stroke like a Carotid endarterectomy or Angioplasty, which deals with removing the blocks in arteries.

Take The Right Action at The Right Time 

Strokes can be deadly, but early recognition and treatment can minimize damage. For more information about strokes and their treatments, please visit our website. We also have a number of resources available for people who have had a stroke or caring for someone who has had one. Knowledge is power when it comes to strokes, so please take advantage of everything we have to offer on our website.