what is a stroke?

A stroke is a brain hemorrhage that originates in the brain stem. Because the brain stem handles many of the body's basic life-support functions, such as breathing and heart rate, a stroke can be fatal. As with other strokes, early treatment is essential, and the prognosis is best if the patient can be treated within hours of the suspected stroke. However, even with immediate care, the patient can die or go into a coma, requiring life support to stay alive.

Strokes are conditions characterized by the sudden death of groups of brain cells. They can be caused by blood clots in the brain, bleeding in the brain, or when other interruptions in the blood supply arise. Within minutes of the blood supply being cut off, cells can die, because blood carries vital oxygen to cells and transports away toxic waste, acting like a superhighway to keep supplies flowing smoothly. A traffic jam, so to speak, can cause cells to die.

The symptoms of a stroke are different, depending on where in the brain the stroke is located, and doctors can use the symptoms to determine the site of the stroke. In the case of a stroke, the patient often experiences vertigo, slurred speech, and slurred speech. Functions such as breathing and heart rate can also be disrupted, and some patients enter what is known as a "locked state," in which the patient can feel stimuli but cannot respond. The blocked state is also characterized by paralysis.

Treating a stroke in its early stages requires resolving the blood supply problem, in the hope of restoring blood flow before too many brain cells are damaged. If the stroke has progressed beyond the point where treatment would be effective, supportive care is used. In some cases, patients may recover, although their functionality will usually be greatly affected and they may require physical therapy. In other cases, a brainstem stroke requires the use of lifelong supportive medical equipment, such as ventilators, and the patient may experience a drastically decreased quality of life after a stroke.

Strokes can be very dangerous, and they can also be very fast. If someone appears to be experiencing the signs of a stroke, they should be taken for emergency medical treatment. Doctors would rather tell people that a problem is not a stroke than face a patient who had a stroke hours before they were seen. Because a stroke can be fatal, prevention is always better than cure.

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