Discovery Fit & Health
Eighty percent of all strokes are ischemic strokes, according to "FDA Consumer." They occur when a clot blocks the flow of blood reaching the brain and the affected area doesn't get the nutrients and oxygen that it needs. The brain doesn't have reserves to draw on and the brain cells begin to die very quickly. Author Melissa Healy said in a "Los Angele Times" article that this can happen at the frightening rate of 12 million cells during each minute of blood loss. The problem is exacerbated because the dying cells release glutamate, a chemical that causes inflammation in the surrounding cells so that they also die. Most commonly, clots begin with the buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries that lead to the brain or in those in the brain. This type is called a cerebral thrombosis. Less often, a clot that began in a different area of the body travels through the arteries until it lodges in the brain. This is a cerebral embolism.
Sometimes strokes are fatal; about 15 percent of people who suffer a stroke die shortly thereafter. But the other 85 percent are stroke survivors who go on with their lives in one form or another. About ten percent of those who've had a stroke are completely back to normal within a short time and a further 25 percent experience only mild impairments that are relatively easy to treat or live with. More stroke victims - - about 40 percent - - have to struggle with moderate-to-severe impairments, and ten percent need nursing care for as long as they live. Most stroke survivors need some type of therapy to be able to function independently again. Often this involves physical or occupational therapies in which the patient relearns skills like walking and speaking. A variety of different therapeutic methods are available, ranging from robotic therapy to constraint-induced therapy, in which a functional limb is restrained to force the patient to use an injured one. Many stroke survivors struggle with depression and may need therapy or antidepressant medications.
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