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Definition

An embolic stroke occurs when a blood clot that forms in the body breaks loose and travels to the brain via the bloodstream, eventually lodging in a blood vessel, blocking the blood flow, causing a stroke.

Symptoms

An embolic stroke, just like any other stroke has the same symptoms. These include:

  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance
  • Trouble walking
  • Loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • Sudden numbness in an arm, a leg or face
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding words

If you have any/some/all of the above symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Risk Factors

A number of factors can put you at risk for a stroke, or increase your chances of having a heart attack. These include:

Lifestyle Factors:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Heavy consumption of alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Use of illicit drugs such as cocaine or methamphetamines
  • Physical inactivity

Medical Factors:

  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • History of strokes in the family
  • Older age - 55 and above
  • Gender - Men have a higher risk of having a stroke

Other risk factors and complications for a stroke include:

  • Memory loss/thinking difficulties
  • Emotional problems
  • Pain
  • Paralysis
  • Difficulty speaking or swallowing
  • Changes in behaviour

Diagnosis

In order to determine what kind of treatment is necessary for your stroke, doctors will first check to see the areas of the brain affected by the stroke, and rule out any other possibilities that may be caused with similar symptoms. After the initial prognosis, your doctor will run the following tests:

Physical examination:

In this, the doctor will check your blood pressure, your heart beat, ask your family for your medical history and check for signs of any blood clots.

Some of the tests done would include:

  • Blood tests
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan
  • Echocardiogram
  • Cerebral angiogram
  • Carotid ultrasound

After the diagnosis made, the doctor will recommend the necessary treatment and care.

Treatment

In order to treat a stroke, the doctor must restore adequate blood flow to the brain. Depending on the severity, treatment may be given either through medication or surgery or other procedures.

Treatment through medication:

  • Aspirin - given to reduce the likelihood of another stroke
  • Intravenous injection or plasminogen activator - to dissolve the blood clot causing your stroke

Treatment through emergency procedures:

  • Medication given directly to the brain through a catheter
  • Mechanical clot removal using a catheter

Surgical procedures:

  • Carotid endarterectomy
  • Angioplasty and stents
 
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