The Effects of Stroke on the Body

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WHO defines stroke as a rapidly developing clinical syndrome of focal or generalized violation of the brain perfusion and functions lasting more than 24 hours.

The brain needs constant inflows of oxygen and glucose due to the high turnover rate. The relative mass of the brain make 2%, but 20% of oxygen and 17% of glucose are of vital importance for brain nutrition. Since the brain does not have reserves, even the local ischemia lasting more than 5 minutes, irreversible damage the nerve cells and side effects of a stroke occur.

Why Is Stroke So Dangerous?

  • Yearly 6 million strokes occur worldwide.
  • Stroke is the second cause of premature death.
  • 10% of stroke survivors recover completely.
  • 31% of patients lack self-care.
  • 50% of survivors develop secondary stroke in the next five years.

What Are the Side Effects of a Stroke?

General description

Left hemisphere

Right hemisphere

Infantile meaningless speech

Loop of coordination

Desensitization and palsy of the right side

Desensitization and palsy of the left side

Perceptual disability of graphic language

Oblivisence disorientation

Self-absorption and depression

Interior passivity or hypomania

Early effects

Pulmonary fever. Pneumonia develops due to the congestion the sputum. Begma cumulates in the lungs and gets infected. The greatest risk of contracting pneumonia occurs when the patient is completely immobilized.

Thrombosis. The blood flow slows and platelets glue making a clot. The clot may block veins or arteries and lead to a fatal outcome.

Coma. Among the effects of a stroke, coma is the most difficult and critical. The condition is characterized by a long loss of consciousness. The patient does not react and pays attention to external stimuli including pain. It is impossible to predict the duration of this state, and it takes a long time to restore the intellectual and physical abilities after coma.

Late effects

Movement disorders. The decrease in muscle strength leads to paresis and paralysis. Many people have to re-learn to fulfill everyday affairs in order to be able to take care of themselves, take food, change clothes and walk. It takes 3-6 months to restore the motor functions.

Facial palsy. Asymmetry of the face is observed due to the damage of the facial nerve. Muscular hypotonia affects the lower part of the face, involving mouth, cheek, lips. Nutrition and drinking become difficult. The sound formation is disrupted, and speech is violated.

Impaired coordination. Hypotaxia is observed in about 1/3 of the patients and significantly hampers the implementation of aimed actions. Vestibular disorders take place within the first 24 hours after the stroke. In more severe cases, unsteady gait and dizziness persist for months. Approximately 1/3 of patients suffer from aphasia. It can be:

  • sensory (disruption of speech understanding);
  • motor (inability to speak coherently);
  • amnestic (the patient forgets some words);
  • sensory-motor;
  • total.

Speech violations are often accompanied by a violation of reading and/or writing.

Sensitivity drift. Among the frequent stroke side effects are the loss of the ability to feel pain, recognize heat, cold and part of the body. The reduction or complete loss of sensitivity leads to injuries, cuts or burns. Sensory decrement contributes to the development of bedsores.

Central pain syndrome. It is expressed in the occurrence of pain of central origin, observed in 3% of patients. More often there is a presence of lesions in the zone of the thalamus. It is also known as Dejerine-Roussy syndrome. Usually, it develops after a few months and tends to be excruciating. The patient complains of burning intense pains in the body and face on the opposite side of the affected cerebral hemisphere. Pain gets worse with the weather or barometrical pressure changes, or psycho-emotional overstrain. In patients with constant pain, frequent mood swings occur, and asthenohypochondriac syndrome develops. The central pain syndrome leads to sleep disorders and insomnia.

Trophic disturbances. Arthropathy, shoulder-hand syndrome, muscle atrophy, pressure marks are most often stroke effects in patients. Arthropathia leads to contractures, which limit the active and passive motion amplitude. Bed sores occur in patients who have long stayed in bed. Due to constant pressure and impaired blood circulation, the necrosis of the skin and fat tissue occurs.

Visual disorders. Visual impairment appears when the visual analyzer and visual pathways located in the occipital lobe of the brain are damaged. The disorders manifest as one-sided visual field loss, gaze palsy, double or blurred vision.

Disorders of higher nervous activity. After a stroke, more than 2/3 of the patients have cognitive impairments of varying severity, and 1/3 of them develop dementia. Stroke leads to memory impairment, loop of intelligence and concentration, emotional and conative disorders, confusion, violation of recognition processes, recognition and comparison of images or the ability to perform targeted motor acts. A sopor is a loss of control over behavior, depression, and inhibition of reactions. Semicoma is observed in 20% of patients.

Risk factors for the post-stroke cognitive impairment are:

  • Age,
  • Male gender,
  • Second strokes,
  • Undereducation,
  • Hypertension,
  • Smoking,
  • Diabetes mellitus,
  • Heart attack,
  • Hypercholesterolaemia,
  • Arrhythmia.

Depression. Up to 80% of those who have suffered a stroke suffer from depression. Depression aggravates the pain. The presence of post-stroke depression has a negative effect on cognitive functions, reduces the effectiveness of rehabilitation, and raises the risk of mortality up to 3-4 times.

Poststroke epilepsy. Seizure occurs in 6-8% of patients during the 6-24 month after stroke. These are short-term convulsions that occur either throughout the body or locally. Seizures last from a few seconds to several minutes. Seizures may lead to a second stroke.

References:

  • Plummer, Prudence, et al. “Effects of stroke severity and training duration on locomotor recovery after stroke: a pilot study.” Neurorehabilitation and neural repair 21.2 (2007): 137-151.
  • Visintin, Martha, et al. “A new approach to retrain gait in stroke patients through body weight support and treadmill stimulation.” Stroke 29.6 (1998): 1122-1128.
  • Hajat, Cother, Shakoor Hajat, and Pankaj Sharma. “Effects of poststroke pyrexia on stroke outcome: a meta-analysis of studies in patients.” stroke 31.2 (2000): 410-414.

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