Stroke (cerebral apoplexy)

Cerebral apoplexy (stroke) is the sudden interruption of blood supply to a specific area of the brain.

Overview

Cerebral apoplexy (stroke) is the sudden interruption of blood supply to a specific area of the brain. Depending on the area of the brain that is affected, a stroke can lead, for example, to paralysis, speech problems or visual impairment. It is an absolute medical emergency if these symptoms appear suddenly.

Symptoms

Main symptoms

  • Paralysis on one side of the body, arm or leg paralysis, often accompanied by sensory disturbances
  • Facial paralysis
  • Speech problems (the patient can no longer pronounce words correctly or can’t speak at all, the ability to understand words can also be lost)
  • Vision impairment, blindness

Other symptoms

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Headache, disorientation
  • Unsteady gait

Course

Many of the symptoms can improve after a while with therapy. Full recovery, however, is only possible for mild strokes. Some symptoms (paralysis, speech problems, etc.) often persist. If the damage is very serious, a stroke can also lead to death.

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • Obstruction of a blood vessel (mostly by a blood clot)
  • Bleeding in the brain (brain haemorrhage)

The lack of blood supply means that the brain tissue no longer receives enough oxygen and dies.

Risk factors

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • CT scan (computed tomography)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Ultrasound of carotid arteries
Possible therapies
  • Medication to dissolve the blood clot (“thrombolysis”)
  • Arterial catheterisation: Very thin tubes are inserted into a vein in the groin and guided to the blocked artery in the skull where the blood clot is removed or dissolved
  • Operation (mechanical removal of blood clot)
  • Rehabilitation and physiotherapy after a stroke

What can I do myself?

When to see a doctor?

  • On suspicion of a stroke, the doctor or emergency services must be called immediately (emergency number 144). In particular for:
    • Sudden paralysis
    • Sudden speech problems

The time frame for successfully restoring blood flow is only three to four-and-a-half hours (“time equals brain cells”).

Further information

Swiss Heart Foundation (Schweizerische Herzstiftung)
www.swissheart.ch

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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