Stroke Basics

Manila Bulletin, November 28, 2010 | Go to article overview

Stroke Basics


"proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain" - William Shakespeare (1564-1616), English poet and playwright Macbeth. Act II. Sc. 1. (1607)MANILA, Philippines - It bothers me that actor William Martinez is in the ICU for what appears to be a stroke. He starred in the seminal youth-angst movie "Bagets" in 1984 and held his ground against pretty boy Aga Muhlach. It bothers me he's in my age group (though I think he's a little younger in fact). He may have just had a brain attack. That's a stroke, or in medical terms, a cerebro-vascular accident (CVA).In many countries, stroke is a leading cause of death and disability, third only to cardiovascular disease and cancer. This medical emergency results from blood supply to the brain getting cut off, depriving sensitive brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. It only takes a few minutes to damage the brain irreversibly.How it happens. About 80% of strokes are of the ischemic type. Blood supply to the brain may be severely compromised when arteries are clogged with cholesterol-laden plaques. These dregs build up in the inner lining of arteries.They harden over time blocking blood flow. In a hemmorhagic stroke, the brain blood vessel leaks or bursts. As blood spreads, brain tissue is damaged.Risk factors. Here's where the sins of a lifestyle of excess end. If you have been smoking like a chimney, by now the nicotine has overworked your heart and contributed to the formation of plaques in the arteries. If you have been carnivorous all your life, chances are sky high cholesterol values reflect the plaques in the arteries. Uncontrolled hypertension is a risk factor for both types of stroke. High blood pressure weakens blood vessels making them susceptible to both leaks and blocks.Signs & symptoms. In the event of a developing stroke, having insight into what's happening and some bit of luck may keep you from becoming a vegetable. …

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