Last Edited: April 10th, 2012

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The word “stroke” is heard quite often. It is a medical condition that can occur in two different ways. One time is when a blood vessel that is taking the blood flow from the heart to the other areas of the body becomes blocked. Another time is when something causes the blood vessels to break, preventing an adequate amount of blood from being able to reach the brain where it is desperately needed. If either of these two things happens, the cells in the brain start to die and irreparable damage can occur. The good news is that people can prevent most strokes from occurring.

Types of Strokes

The two main types of strokes are the ischemic stroke and the hemorrhagic stroke.

Ischemic strokes, also known as clots, occur within a blood vessel that is taking blood to the brain. A substance obstructs the vessel, and prevents blood from reaching the brain. The condition most responsible for the ischemic stroke is atherosclerosis, a malady in which excess fatty deposits begin to appear within the body’s blood vessels. A blood clot can develop within the brain at the fatty obstruction, called cerebral thrombosis. The blood clot can also move from another area in the body and travel to the brain’s blood vessels that may be too small to allow it to pass. This particular clot is called a cerebral embolism.

Hemorrhagic strokes, also known as bleeds, are much less common than ischemic strokes. The hemorrhagic stroke occurs after a weak blood vessel has ruptured and releases blood into the brain. An aneurysm, a portion of a blood vessel that becomes weakened as the vessel expands, weakens until the point where it ruptures and causes bleeding if it is not treated. Blood vessels that are abnormally formed can also rupture in a condition that is called arteriovenous malformation (AVM).


The telltale symptoms of a stroke are numbness or weakness, especially if it is on just one side of the body. The face, the arm or the leg can be affected. Also, someone suffering from a stroke may suddenly lose his or her ability to understand language or express themselves. They may have difficulty seeing, walking and experience an extremely painful headache.

Risk Factors

Anyone can have a stroke, but some risk factors do exist. They are:

  • Hypertension
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Diabetes
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Any form of tobacco use
  • Being Overweight
  • Drinking alcohol


When people first notice any of the symptoms listed above, they will need to immediately go to the hospital. It’s important for them to receive treatment as quickly as possible. If the patient experienced an ischemic stroke, the medical staff will need to ensure that the brain has the blood it has been denied. If the stroke was hemorrhagic, the medical professionals will work to control the bleeding.

In the event that the stroke is being diagnosed very early, it’s possible to reduce the size of the blood clot with medication. With hemorrhagic strokes, the patient’s condition will be monitored so that conditions such as high blood pressure and headache can be controlled.