Guide to Brain Stem Stroke

Strokes are an injury to the brain from lack of blood flow. When blood flow is lost, the delicate cells in the brain actually die off and cease function. A brain stem stroke affects the part of the brain that regulates our heart rate, breathing and blood pressure. This type of stroke can also affect our ability to talk, hear, swallow and move our eyes. And there are two different types of strokes that can affect the blood supply to the brain: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Both types cause blockage and can be fatal if left untreated.

What Causes Brain Stem Stroke?

1. Types of Stroke Based on Different Causes

Let’s look at the two types of stroke that can cause a brain stem stroke in more detail. Both can reduce the amount of blood flow to the brain stem and disrupt vital body functions. One causes blockage inside the blood vessel, while the other causes blood loss to vital areas and pressure from the outside of the blood vessels.  

2. Risk Factors of Brain Stem Stroke

Age tends to be one of the largest risk factors for strokes. However, there are other risk factors that increase the risk when coupled with the age of a person. Here are some common risk factors:

How Can I Tell Someone Is Having a Stroke?

1. “F.A.S.T.” Method to Spot a Stroke

The acronym “F.A.S.T.” helps people remember the symptoms to watch for in regards to strokes. If you or someone you know has these symptoms, call 911 immediately:

2. Important Signs and Symptoms to Notice

Below are the important signs and symptoms of a stroke:

3. Rare Symptoms and Complications of Brain Stem Stroke

Rarely, a brain stem stroke can cause the following symptoms:

What Are the Treatment Options for Brain Stem Stroke?

The treatment for brainstem stroke is aimed at working on the root cause of the stroke and relieving any symptoms. Here are some common treatments for stroke:

1. Medication

The medicines you are going to use depend on which type of stroke you had. If you had an ischemic stroke, you are most likely given medications to help either dissolve blood clots or stop any bleeding in the brain. If a hemorrhagic stroke is the stroke you had, blood pressure, seizure and cholesterol medications are used as needed.

2. Rehabilitation

A stroke affects the muscles and you may need physical therapy to help bring back muscle strength. You may even need to learn to do some things again. Occupational therapy can help you do all the daily tasks like dressing, brushing your teeth, or performing work activities. Speech therapists can help you re-learn to speak and swallow.

3. Surgery

The doctor may need to drain fluid from your brain by placing a tube through the skull. This tube can also monitor the pressure in the brain. Another surgical procedure may also need to be done to place a filter in the blocked blood vessel to keep clots from passing through to the brain.

4. Ventilator

If the stroke is causing you to have severe breathing issues, you may need a tube placed through the mouth or nose to deliver extra oxygen to your lungs.

Survival Rate and Prognosis of Brain Stem Stroke

While the statistics show stroke can be the fourth largest cause of death in the U.S., death from strokes is much less now than in the past. With advances in treatments, more than 75% of stroke victims live more than one year after their stroke and 50% live more than five years.

However, stroke survivors can suffer from long-term weakness, painand muscle spasms. There are also complications, like having trouble with walking, getting out of bed or a chair, eating issues, and other normal daily activities. Furthermore, during the first few weeks to months, there is a high chance of having another stroke. Within the first five years, 25% of stroke sufferers often suffer another stroke. 

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