It is estimated that, in India 1.8 million people are diagnosed with brain stroke symptoms each year. It is safe to say that brain stroke is one of the biggest epidemics of this century. In this article, we discuss what a brain stroke is, why it occurs, and what are the surgical treatments for it.
What Is A Brain Stroke?
The brain is one of the most essential organs of the body. It controls each and every function of it. To operate correctly, the brain requires an adequate flow of blood to all its tissues and cells. When an abnormality in this blood flow occurs, it is called a blood stroke.
Why Does A Brain Stroke Happen?
The most common reason for a brain stroke is narrowing of arteries which carry blood to the brain. When they are blocked because of a blood clot, or there is plaque build-up, it reduces the blood flow to the brain. This causes a stroke known as Ischemic stroke. 80% of all strokes are due to this.
A variation of ischemic stroke is a mini-stroke which happens for a very short time duration. It causes minimal damage to the brain tissue, therefore is easily reversible. Such strokes are called transient ischemic.
Another reason a brain stroke occurs is when a brain artery bursts and spills a lot of blood in the brain tissue. Other areas of the brain do not get the proper supply of blood, and hence a stroke occurs. This is called a haemorrhagic stroke.
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The reasons why a brain stroke occurs vary a lot but tend to fall in three categories:
- Lifestyle: This includes use of alcohol or drugs, obesity or physical inactivity.
- Medical: This includes issues such as a family history of strokes, sleep apnoea, hypertension, cardiovascular conditions and diabetes.
- Other factors: This includes hormones, gender, race and age. For example, birth control pills and hormone therapy can trigger strokes. Men above 55 years are more prone to them than women.
How Are Brain Strokes Treated Surgically?
- A stent and a catheter are used to remove the blood clot blocking the artery of the brain. This is the most minimally invasive surgery for brain stroke, and it is called a mechanical embolectomy.
- When a stroke causes swelling in the brain, it creates pressure. To relieve the build-up, a portion of the skull is surgically removed to give space to the swollen brain. It is then sutured back. This is called a hemicraniectomy.
- To prevent a haemorrhagic stroke due to an aneurysm, a metal clip is used to isolate it from the normal flow of blood and stop it from bursting. An aneurysm is the bulging of an artery. This surgery is known as aneurysm clipping.
Carotid surgery and aneurysm coiling are two other surgical methods of treating a brain stroke.