Brain stroke is being hailed as a major epidemic of the 21st century. In India alone, approximately 1.8 million Indians out of a population of 1.3 billion are diagnosed with symptoms of brain stroke every year (source: Huffington Post).
What Is Brain Stroke and How Does It Occur?
The brain is one of the largest organs in the human body and controls the functioning of the entire body. Needless to say, it requires adequate flow of blood to all its tissues and cells for proper functioning, at all times. Abnormalities in this blood flow can cause a stroke and are generally of these types:
- Ischemic stroke: This is the most common variety, contributing to 80 percent of all stroke cases. In this type, the arteries carrying blood to the brain get narrowed due to plaque buildup or blocked due to a blood clot, leading to reduced blood flow to the brain.
- Hemorrhagic stroke: In this type, one of the arteries in the brain bursts and the blood spills into the brain tissue. Regions of the brain beyond the burst are denied of blood supply, triggering a stroke.
- Transient ischemic stroke: Also called a mini-stroke, this is a variation of the ischemic stroke which lasts for a brief period of time. As a result, the damage to the brain tissue is less and can be reversed quickly.
There are various risk factors for brain stroke, which can be classified as lifestyle, medical and other factors. Lifestyle factors include being overweight, physically inactive and abuse of drugs or alcohol. Medical factors include hypertension, diabetes, sleep apnea, cardiovascular diseases and a family history of stroke. Other factors include age, race, gender and hormones. People above 55 years of age are more susceptible to stroke, and again, men are more prone than women. African-Americans are more at risk than other races, while hormone therapies and birth-control pills can also trigger strokes.
Surgical Options for the Treatment of Brain Stroke
There are various surgical options available for treating patients who have suffered a stroke or are at a high-risk of one:
- Hemicraniectomy: A stroke can trigger swelling of the brain and can cause pressure to build-up in this area. In this procedure, a portion of the skull is removed to allow the brain to swell and then sutured back.
- Mechanical embolectomy: This is a minimally invasive procedure wherein the blood-clot in the artery is removed using a stent that has been inserted through a catheter.
- Aneurysm clipping: An aneurysm is a bulging of the arteries that can burst and trigger a hemorrhagic stroke. In this procedure, a metal clip is used to isolate the bulge from normal blood flow and prevent it from bursting.
- Aneurysm coiling: Here, a metal coil is inserted into the aneurysm which eventually causes a blood clot to form there which prevents the aneurysm from bursting.
- Carotid surgery: This is used to prevent an ischemic stroke. Here, the surgeon makes an incision in the neck and directly accesses the carotid artery to remove the excess plaque there.
Choosing the Best Option for You
Patients who have suffered a stroke in the recent past or people whose health checkup identifies them as being at a risk of stroke, must undergo a thorough examination. This involves taking several CT scan images of the brain which will be diagnosed and shared with the patient. Then based on the severity of the stroke or stroke risk and the contributing factor, one of the above surgical options will be decided on. Consulting a qualified doctor will help in better management and prevention of a stroke attack.