General Topics

Symptoms and Treatment for Brain Stem Stroke | Cardiology

What is a brain stem stroke? 

The brain stem stroke regulates breathing, eye movement, facial movement, heart rate, and blood pressure. Sitting just above the spinal cord, the brain stem controls your breathing, heartbeat, and blood pressure. It also controls your speech, swallowing, hearing, and eye movements. Impulses sent by other parts of the brain travel through the brain stem on their way to various body parts.

We’re dependent on brain stem function for survival. A brain stem stroke threatens vital bodily functions, making it a life-threatening condition. When the blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off, a stroke occurs because the blocked artery or blood vessels are leaking. The brainstem is located at the base of the brain and is responsible for receiving and transmitting information throughout the body.

The brain stem regulates essential bodily functions, namely:

  • Breathing
  • Swallow
  • Eye movement
  • Facial movement and sensation
  • Listening
  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure
  • Brain stem strokes affect a person’s basic bodily functions and can lead to chronic problems.

Symptoms of brain stem stroke

Dizziness and loss of balance are common symptoms of a stroke. Because the brain stem regulates different types of motor functions, strokes in this area of the brain can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Brainstem strokes affect important bodily functions, including:

  • Breathing
  • Swallow
  • Heart rate

The brain stem receives different signals from the brain and sends them to different parts of the body. Brainstem strokes interrupt these signals, so people may experience physical symptoms, such as numbness or weakness in the face, arms, or legs.

Other common symptoms of a stroke:

  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance
  • Vertigo
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Trouble speaking or swallowing
  • Headache
  • Confusion

Stroke syndromes of the brain system

Some stroke syndromes of the brain system have an unrelated set of symptoms because their control is in small concentrated areas of the brain system that share the same blood supply.

Ondine’s curse: Ondine’s curse due to a lower spinal injury affects voluntary breathing.

Weber syndrome: Weber syndrome is a stroke of the midbrain that causes weakness in the front of the body, which is accompanied by weakness of the eyelids and weakness of eye movements.

Blockage syndrome: Blockage syndrome affects strokes and leads to complete paralysis and inability to speak, the ability to move consciousness, and intact eyes. This may be due to a very abnormal salt and fluid balance.

Wallenberg syndrome: Also known as a lateral spinal syndrome, Wallenberg syndrome causes sensory deficits of the face on the same side as stroke and sensory deficits of the body.

Types of brain stem stroke 

There are two main types of strokes, both of which affect the brain stem:

Ischemic stroke:

  • Ischemic strokes occur when blood clots form in narrow arteries in the head or neck and cut off the blood supply to an area of the brain.
  • Ischemic strokes are the most common type, accounting for 87% of all strokes. About 10% of all ischemic strokes affect the brain stem.
  • A transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as a mini-stroke or warning stroke, when the blood supply to the brain is briefly interrupted. TIAs cause milder symptoms than full ischemic strokes, and most symptoms clear up within an hour.

Brain-vascular hemorrhagic accident:

  • Brain bleeding or hemorrhage occurs when weak blood vessels leak or open, creating swelling and pressure. This stress damages the tissues and cells of the brain.
  • Hemorrhagic strokes are less common than other types of strokes but account for 40 percent of all stroke deaths.

Risk factors of brain stem stroke

High blood pressure increases the risk of stroke. Anyone can have a stroke, but specific genetic factors such as family history, gender, race, and age put some people at higher risk for stroke than others. Women have more strokes than men and are more likely to die from a stroke than men.

Some risk factors specific to women:

  • Use of hormone replacement therapies
  • Long-term use of birth control pills in combination with other risk factors such as smoking
  • The pregnancy
  • People of African American and Hispanic descent are also at risk for stroke.
  • Most strokes occur in people over the age of 65. However, research suggests that the rate of stroke hospitalizations and the presence of risk factors for stroke in young children has increased significantly.

Medical conditions that increase the risk of stroke:

  • Hypertension
  • High cholesterol
  • Atrial fibrillation (AFib)
  • Diabetes
  • is blackberry
  • Heart disease (CVD)
  • Lifestyle risk factors

People cannot control genetic factors, but they can control lifestyle factors that increase the risk of stroke. Behaviors that increase the risk of high blood pressure or clotting increase the risk of stroke.

Behaviors that increase the risk of stroke:

  • Smoke tobacco
  • Excessive drinking
  • Consumption of illicit drugs
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Lack of food 

Diagnosis of brain stem stroke

Brain stem stroke is a fatal medical emergency. If you have symptoms that indicate a stroke, your doctor may order imaging tests such as an MRI, CT scan, Doppler ultrasound, or angiogram. The cardiac function test may include an EKG and an echocardiogram. Additional diagnostic procedures may include blood tests, as well as kidney and liver function tests. 

Treatment for brain stem strokes

When an ischemic stroke occurs, the first line of treatment is clotting or drawing the blood. If a stroke is diagnosed quickly, blood thinners can be given. If possible, a catheter can be used to clot during a procedure called an embolectomy. In some cases, angioplasty and stenting are used to widen and keep the artery open. Bleeding For a stroke, the bleeding must stop.

Sometimes a clip or coil is placed over the aneurysm to stop the bleeding. Medications to reduce clotting may also be needed. During this time, your medical team will need to take extra steps to keep your heart and lungs working. Brain stem stroke is a medical emergency. You need immediate treatment to save lives and reduce the risk of permanent complications.

Treatment depends on the type, location, and severity of the stroke:

Ischemic stroke: In the treatment of ischemic stroke, blood flow is restored through clotting. The methods include the following:

  • Anticoagulant drugs, such as tissue plasminogen activator (T-PA), help dissolve clots and restore blood flow to the affected area.
  • Antiplatelet drugs such as warfarin. The doctor may prescribe aspirin if a person has a lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke and bleeding. Current guidelines do not recommend the use of aspirin as in the past.
  • Endovascular therapy, which is a surgical procedure that involves the use of mechanical reclaimers to clot the blood.
  • Other devices, such as balloons or stents, can be used to open narrow blood vessels and improve blood flow.

Brain-vascular hemorrhagic accident: Treatment of hemorrhagic strokes focuses on controlling bleeding and reducing stress on the brain. Treatment methods:

  • Give medicine to control blood pressure and prevent seizures.
  • Spiral embolization, which is a surgical procedure that helps blood to clot in a weakened vessel. Clotting reduces bleeding and prevents blood vessels from reopening.
  • Once bleeding in the brain has been controlled, doctors can perform surgical procedures to prevent the ruptured blood vessel from bleeding again.

Prevention of brain stem strokes

It is estimated that 80 percent of strokes are preventable. People can reduce their risk of stroke by making the following lifestyle changes:

  • It controls the levels of lipids and cholesterol
  • Control blood pressure with medications and behavior changes
  • Manage medical conditions like diabetes
  • Give up smoking
  • Eat a diet low in fat and sodium
  • Make sure you have plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet
  • At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week
  • Restoration and perspective
  • Brain stem stroke can lead to serious chronic problems. Medications and behavior changes can help reduce the risk of future strokes.
  • Physical therapy improves muscle strength and coordination and ultimately helps people regain lost motor skills.
  • Speech and language and occupational therapy can help people improve their cognitive skills, such as memory, problem-solving, and judgment.
  • Some people with stroke and severe disabilities need counseling to adjust.

Symptoms, Causes, and Risks of Atherosclerosis | Cardiology

What is atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is a toughening and narrowing of the arteries. It can put your blood flow at risk as your arteries get blocked. You may hear it called arteriosclerosis or atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. It is the common cause of heart attacks, strokes, and outlying vascular disease, collectively called cardiovascular disease.

Symptoms of atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis generally affects older people, but it can begin to develop during adolescence. Inside the artery, streaks of white blood cells will appear on the wall of the artery. Often, there are no symptoms until some plaque breaks down or blood flow is restricted. This can take many years to happen. The symptoms of atherosclerosis are contingent on the arteries affected.

Carotid arteries: The carotid arteries provide blood to the brain. The restricted blood supply can lead to a stroke. Symptoms of a stroke can appear suddenly and include:

  • Weakness
  • Labored breathing
  • Headache
  • Facial numbness
  • Paralysis

If a being has signs of a stroke, they need instant medical attention.

Coronary arteries: The coronary arteries supply blood to the heart. When the blood supply to the heart decreases, it can cause angina and heart attack. A person can experience:

  • Chest pain
  • Throwing up
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Coughing
  • Weakness

Renal arteries: The renal arteries supply blood to the kidneys. If the blood supply is reduced, chronic kidney disease can develop. Someone with a renal artery blockage significant enough to cause chronic kidney disease may experience:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling of the hands and feet
  • Difficult to focus

Peripheral arteries: These arteries source blood to the arms, legs, and pelvis. If blood cannot circulate effectively, a person may experience numbness and pain in the extremities. In severe cases, tissue death and infection can occur. Peripheral artery disease also increases the risk of stroke or heart attack.

Causes of atherosclerosis

Plaque buildup and subsequent hardening of the arteries restrict blood flow in the arteries, preventing your organs and tissues from getting the oxygenated blood they need to function.

The following are communal causes of hardening of the arteries:

High cholesterol: Cholesterol is a yellow, waxy substance that occurs naturally in your body and in certain foods you eat. If the cholesterol levels in your blood are too high, it can clog your arteries. It turns into hard plaque that restricts or blocks blood flow to your heart and other organs.

Diet: It is important to eat a healthy diet. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that you follow a general healthy dietary pattern that emphasizes:

  • A wide range of fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Poultry and fish, skinless
  • Nuts and legumes
  • Non-tropical vegetable oils, such as olive or sunflower oil.

Some other dietary tips:

  • Avoid foods and drinks with added sugar, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, sweets, and desserts. The AHA endorses no more than 6 teaspoons or 100 calories of sugar a day for most women and no more than 9 teaspoons or 150 calories a day for most men.
  • Avoid foods that are high in salt. Try not to have more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day. Ideally, you would not consume more than 1,500 mg per day.
  • Escape foods high in unhealthy fats, like trans fats. Change them with unsaturated fats, which are well for you. If you need to inferior your blood cholesterol, reduce saturated fat to no more than 5 to 6 percent of total calories. For someone who consumes 2,000 calories a day, that’s about 13 grams of saturated fat.

Aging: As you age, your heart and blood containers work harder to pump and receive blood. Your arteries can become weak and less elastic, making them more susceptible to plaque buildup.

Risk factors of atherosclerosis

Hardening of the arteries occurs over time. In addition to aging, factors that increase the risk of atherosclerosis include:

  • Hypertension
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking and other uses of tobacco
  • Family history of early heart disease
  • Lack of exercise
  • An unhealthy diet

Diagnosis of atherosclerosis

A healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and listen to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope. Atherosclerosis can create a hiss or murmur (“murmur”) over an artery. All adults over the age of 18 should have their blood pressure check every year. More frequent measurements may be needed for those with a history of high blood pressure readings or those with risk factors for high blood pressure.

  • Cholesterol testing is recommended for all adults. The main national guidelines differ in terms of the suggested age to start the test.
  • Screening should begin between the ages of 20 and 35 for men and between 20 and 45 for women.
  • It is not necessary to repeat the test for five years for most adults with normal cholesterol levels.
  • The test may need to be repeated if there are lifestyle changes, such as a large weight gain or a change in diet.
  • More frequent tests are needed for adults with a history of high cholesterol, diabetes, kidney problems, heart disease, stroke, and other conditions.
  • Various imaging tests can be used to see how well blood moves through the arteries.
  • Doppler tests that use ultrasound or sound waves.
  • Magnetic resonance arteriography (MRA), a special type of magnetic resonance imaging
  • Special CT scans called CT angiography
  • Arteriograms or angiograms use x-rays and contrast material (sometimes called “dye”) to see the path of blood flow within the arteries.

Treatment for atherosclerosis

Treatments for atherosclerosis may include heart-healthy lifestyle changes, medications, and medical procedures or surgery. The goals of treatment include:

  • Reduce the risk of blood clots.
  • Prevention of diseases related to atherosclerosis
  • Reduce risk factors in an effort to slow or stop plaque buildup.
  • Relieve symptoms
  • Widening or shunting of plaque-clogged arteries
  • Heart-healthy lifestyle changes

Your doctor may endorse heart-healthy lifestyle changes if you have atherosclerosis. Heart-healthy lifestyle changes include heart-healthy eating, a goal of a healthy weight, stress management, physical activity, and smoking cessation.

Medicines: Sometimes lifestyle changes alone are not enough to control your cholesterol levels. For example, you may also need statin medications to control or lower your cholesterol. By lowering your blood cholesterol level, you can lower your chances of having a heart attack or stroke. Doctors often prescribe statins to people who have:

  • Coronary heart disease, peripheral artery disease, or a previous stroke
  • Diabetes
  • High levels of LDL cholesterol
  • Doctors may discuss starting statin treatment with people who are at high risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke.

Your doctor may also prescribe other medications to:

  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Lower your blood sugar levels
  • Prevent blood clots, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Prevent inflammation: Take all medications regularly, as prescribed by your doctor. Do not alter the amount of your medicine or skip a dose unless your doctor tells you to. You must still follow a heart-healthy lifestyle, even if you take medicine to treat your atherosclerosis.

Surgery and medical procedures: If you have severe atherosclerosis, your physician may acclaim a medical procedure or surgery.

  • Percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), also known as coronary angioplasty, is a procedure used to open blocked or narrowed coronary (heart) arteries. PCI can recover blood flow to the heart and relieve chest pain. Occasionally a small mesh tube called a stent is placed in the artery to keep it open after the procedure.
  • Coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) is a type of surgery. In CABG, arteries or veins from other areas of your body are used to bypass or bypass the narrow coronary arteries. CABG can improve blood flow to the heart, relieve chest pain, and possibly prevent a heart attack.
  • The bypass graft can also be used for the arteries in the legs. For this surgery, a healthy blood vessel is used to bypass a narrow or blocked artery in one of the legs. The healthy blood vessel redirects blood around the blocked artery, which improves blood flow to the leg.
  • Carotid endarterectomy is a type of surgery to eliminate plaque buildup from the carotid arteries in the neck. This procedure reinstates blood flow to the brain, which can help prevent a stroke.
  • In some cases, plaque is part of a process that causes the wall of an artery to weaken. This can cause a bulge in an artery called an aneurysm. Aneurysms can rupture (rupture). This causes bleeding that can be life-threatening.

Prevention of atherosclerosis

The same healthy lifestyle variations recommended for treating atherosclerosis also help prevent it. These include:

  • Give up smoking
  • Eating healthy food
  • Exercise regularly
  • Keep a healthy weight

Just remember to make the changes step by step and be aware of which lifestyle changes are manageable for you in the long run.