STROKE!  – What type of Stroke?

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Cerebrovascular accident (CVA) is the medical name for a stroke.

This name indicates that there has been an accident in the blood vessels that supply nutrients and oxygen to the brain.

There are two types of stroke:

1: The blood vessel becomes blocked – Ischemic stroke

It takes years for plaque to build up and coat the inner lining of the blood vessels with cholesterol, fibrin, calcium and fatty substances.  This type of stroke usually occurs in the advanced years.  People with a history of heart valves problems or atrial fibrillations have an increased risk of blood clotting due to thickening of the blood.

2: The blood vessel ruptures – Hemorrhagic stroke

A blood vessel can rupture after a knock to the head or from a congenital weakness in the lining of the blood vessels.  This type of stroke can occur to anyone at any age.  High blood pressure can increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke.

After a Stroke what happens to the body?

When there is an interruption in the brain’s blood flow, brain cells are deprived of nutrients and oxygen causing cellular damage and or cellular death. The location of the incident in the brain will determine which functions are interrupted or lost. Some functions that may be affected include speech, swallowing, walking, fine motor skills of the hand, bladder and bowel bladder control and cognitive processing.

Fluid accumulation (Oedema) occurs as a result of cellular death.The type of stroke will determine the onset rate of oedema.

Hemorrhagic Stroke Indicators

With a hemorrhagic stroke oedema forms immediately and functions decline from day one and continue to deteriorate until the oedema stabilizes around the fifth day.

With the onset of a hemorrhagic stroke, symptoms may include an excruciating headache, a sudden loss of consciousness and a drop to the ground.  There is usually more brain damage sustained in a hemorrhagic stroke and the symptoms are usually more severe.  The accumulation of oedema can be so prolific that it can alter brain position.

Ischemic Stroke Indicators

With an Ischemic stroke, oedema forms later, around the third day. Functions are not immediately affected as they are in hemorrhagic stroke.

Prior to the Ischemic stroke, close family members may not be recognized due to restricted blood flow in the brain.  Consciousness may be lost and a slow collapse to the ground may occur. 

The loss of function often increases with the onset of oedema on the third day. At this time functions start to decline and by the fifth-day oedema is at its peak. Functions like walking may be possible until the third day, after which it may be lost.

In the weeks following the stroke, a reduction in oedema and inflammation around the damaged brain tissue may occur.  With this, some functions may improve.

In China, some hospitals have Chinese Medicine Departments. Chinese herbalist and Acupuncturist work alongside medical practitioners. Acupuncture is used in the emergency departments with stroke patients.

In my next article, I will be discussing an alternative method of treatment for Stroke.

Diagnosing the type of stroke sustained is crucial as it will determine the course of treatment.

Acupuncture is used on hemorrhagic patients to regulate the blood pressure, to help coagulation, a process needed to stop the bleeding and to regain consciousness.

How it works is not entirely understood, more research needs to be done, with that aside, acupuncture seems to protect the cell necrosis.  With fewer cells dying there is less oedema and less damage to the brain. Acupuncture could restore reperfusion to the collaterals blood vessels or help dissolve the fibrin around the clot.

It is important for ischemic patients to sleep less and keep active straight after the stroke as movement increases the pressure in the blood vessel, this pressure may dislodge the clot. It is important for Hemorrhagic patients to remain calm and not move much until vital signs are stable.

Once the vital signs are stable, it is important for the stroke patient to sit up or stand, this will help speed up patient recovery.

I was one of a few incredibly lucky practitioners to spend time in early June with Prof. Ming Qing Zhu.

Prof. Ming Qing Zhu is one of the most eminent acupuncturists, famous for his results in treating people with stroke, spinal cord injuries and neurological conditions.

Using Zhu style acupuncture the patient is asked to actively participate in Dao yin exercise that helps significantly to amplify a patients’ recovery.

Brigitte Lalor


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