Stroke: Causes and Preventive Measures

Part 1: The Research Questions

  1. What is my topic about? The topic seeks to investigate the causes of stroke and how it can be prevented or effectively managed to avoid fatality.
  2. Why am I interested in this topic? I lost my dad to stroke and it affected my whole family. We want to avoid a similar tragedy from claiming the life of another family member
  3. What do I hope to learn from studying this topic? I seek to gain knowledge about stroke, especially on causes, early symptoms, how to manage it, and how to act in cases of emergency.
  4. Research question? What causes stroke and what are some of the possible solutions available to help other family members in case they may experience the same problem?

Part 2: The Lead: Speculating about Causes

In early 2017, my father started complaining of acute pain in the lower abdomen, bladder, and genital area. We took him to a local clinic where it was established that he had a condition called prostatitis. The doctor explained that it was swelling and inflammation of the prostate gland and that the condition required surgery. He was given anti-inflammation and antibiotics drugs and painkillers. His condition improved and the pain subsided significantly. However, he was strongly opposed to having surgery to remove the swelling. After two months, he started complaining of sharp headache. We took him back to the same hospital and he was admitted. Two days later, his speech became incoherent and he was having difficulty walking. An MRI-MRA scan revealed that he had suffered a cerebellar infarct. Family members and the medical team had not suspected that he was suffering from such a lethal condition. By the time the diagnosis was conducted, it was too late. He passed on that day at night, an event that has had a devastating impact on my family.

I consider this study to be important and personal because, before this incident, I knew very little about the disease. Currently, I have some limited knowledge gained from the interaction with the medical staff who were handling my father. I also conducted mini research soon after his death to understand the medical condition. I know that the condition is caused by the blockage of blood supply to the brain. I also know that when one suffers a stroke attack, it has to be treated as a medical emergency to protect their lives. The information I reviewed also shows that although the elderly are more likely to suffer from this condition, young and energetic people can also be affected.

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I have two primary goals that I seek to realize through this study. First, I want to know why people who do not fall into the category of vulnerable groups also get affected by stroke. My father was a slim and physically-active 50-year old man who engaged in various sports. He had never suffered from any heart disease and his blood pressure was almost at normal levels. He had not exhibited any signs that would have made it be categorized as vulnerable to stroke. As such, I would want to know other unique causes of stroke. If the condition is hereditary, then my siblings and I are at risk of facing the same fate.

The second goal is to determine how stroke can be diagnosed early enough, especially among those who are physically active. I strongly believed that if the condition of my father was diagnosed in time, he would have received timely assistance. He complained of acute headache for two days and no one, including the medical staff, could not understand the cause. By the time they suggested a head-scan, it was too late to save his life. I need more information about obvious signs that one can see to know that a given individual is possibly suffering from stroke and effective containment measures at that early stage. The following are the primary questions that have to be addressed in this paper:

  1. Why people who do not fall into the category of vulnerable groups also get affected by stroke?
  2. How stroke can be diagnosed early enough, especially among those who are physically active?

Part 3: The Quest: Proposing Solutions

The purpose of the first primary question is to determine the reason why a stroke attack also affect those who are outside the category of vulnerable groups in terms of their lifestyle and other factors. It seeks to explain unique aspects of this disease and how medical experts can expand the traits of those who are considered vulnerable. Curtis explains that when one believes that they are less likely to be affected by a given disease, they tend to ignore obvious signs and symptoms (67). The acute headache and inability to walk properly are obvious signs of stroke, but we all ignored them because of the belief that our father was physically fit and less likely to suffer stroke. The investigation seeks to go beyond common stereotypes about the disease.

The purpose of the second question is to determine signs and symptoms that should not be ignored even if an individual is considered less vulnerable to the condition. An acute headache may be caused by a variety of factors (Ibrahim et al. 57). However, when such a condition is accompanied by others such as poor coordination and falling of the face, then it should be a warning that the individual could be suffering from stroke. The question also investigates what could be done in such a situation to protect the life of the patient. I believe that if the case of my father was correctly diagnosed at the right time, the condition would have been arrested and probably he would still be with us.

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Part 4: The Search: Annotated Bibliography and Argumentation

Yamamoto, Joshua, et al. You Can Prevent a Stroke. Rosetta Books, 2019.

The authors of this book argue that it is possible to prevent stroke if one embraces the right attitude and is committed to some standard practices. They explain that for a long time, the emphasis had been placed on assessing the symptoms of the patient. It meant that if an individual did not exhibit symptoms such as acute headache, paralysis, or numbness of the face, there would be no need to consider them as possible victims of the condition. This approach is outdated and reactive, and can sometimes be fatal. By the time a patient exhibits these conditions, a lot must have happened, and these may be final stages before the condition reaches irreversible levels. In fact, an individual who reaches these stages where these symptoms are evident may not fully recover from stroke.

Managing the condition requires an individual to lead an active and responsible lifestyle. Age or bodyweight of an individual should not be the basic factor that defines one’s vulnerability to the condition. Blood clots in sensitive parts of the brain can be caused by a wide range of factors, including high blood pressure. Sometimes the blood vessel may burst, denying a section of the brain the nutrients needed for survival. Individuals who are constantly under stress, irrespective of their age physical fitness, or any other stereotypical classifications can be affected. It is necessary for one to remain as active as possible, and most importantly, conduct regular tests to help arrest such conditions when they start developing. Reactive strategies of waiting for the symptoms before seeking medical attention may be lethal.

Dening, Tom, et al., editors. Oxford Textbook of Old Age Psychiatry. Oxford University Press, 2021.

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The study reveals that about three-fourths of all deaths in the United States occur among individuals aged over 65 years. Stroke is ranked among one of the most common causes of death among these people. Ischemic stroke is the most common among these elderly individuals. This pattern may be attributed to the fact that at this age, these people are rarely active. They lack the energy to engage in active sporting activities. They become more susceptible to the condition. Understanding the sociology of aging may help experts and general public in managing this condition among the elderly. There is a general belief that as one ages, they should reduce their physical activities because they more likely to sustain physical injuries and it may not be easy for them to recover. Such beliefs are misleading and may put these vulnerable individuals at risk of suffering stroke.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the essential ways of managing this condition among the elderly. The mentality that once an individual is over 50 years they need to reduce their physical activities should be changed. Physical activity is one of the best ways of preventing stroke among the elderly. Another factor is the diet. Excessive intake of foods rich in calories may also pose a major threat to these elderly persons. This book holds the view that the ability to overcome this condition depends on the personal decisions and commitments of an individual. They have to understand the fact that specific behavior puts them at greater risk of suffering from stroke. Regular medical checkup among the elderly is also essential when managing this condition. A simple CT scan can help in identifying narrowing blood vessels and corrective measures can be taken before a patient develops common symptoms.

McConnell, Alistair, et al. “Robotic Devices and Brain-Machine Interfaces for Hand Rehabilitation Post-Stroke.” Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, vol. 49, no. 1, 2017, pp. 449-459.

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and other parts of the world. Various deliberate measures have been taken by governments to help reduce cases of stroke. Despite the successful advancements in the field of research and practice in this field, a significant number of people are still falling victims to the condition. The United States has made major advancements in this field and most patients who seek timely treatment after suffering a stroke often get treatment. The problem is that the majority are left with permanent neurological damages that make it impossible to lead normal lives again. Walking and doing other physical jobs are often the biggest challenge for such survivors.

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The authors of this article explain that the emergence of robotic devices is set to transform the strategy used in managing the condition of stroke survivors. The article specifically focuses on hand rehabilitation post-stoke. These survivors find it difficult to use their hands the normal way after recovering from the life-threatening condition. Medical researchers have been working closely with robotic companies and they have developed aesthetic hands for such survivors. The device can read instructions from the brain and act accordingly. The device not only helps the patient to lead a normal life but also facilitates the rehabilitation of the hand. The more the patient uses the device, the more fingers and the entire arm learn to respond to brain instructions. It is meant to rehabilitate the hand and to reduce one’s reliance on friends and family members to perform normal chores. Despite the obvious benefits of this technology, its implementation still faces numerous challenges. The cost of the aesthetic arm was identified as the major challenge in its wide implementation. Issues such as acceptability and limited research in this field have also slowed its implementation.

Norrving, Bo, et al. “Action Plan for Stroke in Europe 2018–2030.” European Stroke Journal, vol. 3, no. 4, 2018, pp. 309-336.

Stroke is one of the major medical problems that individual countries within the European Union have to address. The authors note that individual countries have made an effort to fight this problem but it remains to be one of the leading causes of death among adults aged over 65 years. The authors of this article acknowledge the fact that one of the best strategies of fighting an endemic in a region is for states to come together, pool resources, and find a common solution. The European Union has taken such an approach to help reduce the number of those who are affected by the problem. The 2018 to 2030 European Stroke Action Plan (ESAP) set specific targets that had to be realized by 2030. The first goal was to reduce the absolute number of strokes in the region by 10% (Norrving et al. 310). The second goal was to ensure that at least 90% of stroke patients are effectively treated in specialized stroke units as the first-level of care.

The third goal is to have a national plan for stroke in each country that defines the entire chain of care, from prevention strategies to managing life after stroke. The fourth goal is to fully implement national strategies for multi-sector public health interventions to promote and facilitate a healthy lifestyle, and reduce environmental (including air pollution), socioeconomic and educational factors that increase the risk of stroke.” The strategy that the EU has taken is effective in managing stroke, especially because it affects a large majority of the elderly in the region. The authors believe that most of the preventive strategies proposed by ESAP such as physical activity, reduced intake of salts and foods rich in calories, and reducing stress levels have been proven to reduce cases of stress.

Holland, Kimberly. “Everything You Need to Know About Stroke.” Healthline, 2019, Web.

The author explains that a stroke occurs when there is a blockage of a blood vessel that takes blood to the brain or when such a vessel ruptures and bleeds, making it impossible for the blood to reach the brain. When brain cells are deprived of oxygen and nutrients, they start to die in minutes. It is a life-threatening condition that requires urgent medical attention. Some of the common symptoms of stroke include acute headache, paralysis, numbness of the face, arm, and legs, confusion, vision problems, loss of balance, and slurring speech. It is estimated that in the United States alone, over 795,000 people die each year from stroke, making it the fifth-leading cause of death in the country.

The authors note that stroke is more likely to affect women than men. In women, it is the fourth leading cause of death in the country. The three main categories of stroke are ischemic stroke, transient ischemic attack, and hemorrhagic stroke. Each is unique in terms of how they occur. Ischemic stroke and transient ischemic attack are caused by blockage of an artery supplying blood to the brain. On the other hand, hemorrhagic stroke is caused by leaking or ruptured blood vessel. In all of these cases, there is always a lack of supply of blood to the brain cells.

Personal Interview

The researcher was keen on having a thorough investigation of stroke as one of the leading causes of death in the country. One of our neighbors was able to survive stroke and although she is still slightly paralyzed, she has registered significant recovery and is likely to lead a normal life soon. When I asked her to provide a brief explanation of events leading to her admission, she explained that she had never suspected that she could suffer from that condition because she was only 52 years and leading an active lifestyle.

One day she started experiencing acute headache at the back of her head. Her daughter, who is a neurosurgeon, immediately took her to the hospital where an MRI was conducted. It revealed that there was a blood clot in one of the vessels leading to the brain. She explains that she went through an operation immediately to remove the clot. Her condition was diagnosed in time and appropriate measures were taken to address it. She spent a week in the hospital before being discharged. She has been under recovery for the past four months. Although she is unable to undertake specific tasks, she explained that her life is getting back to normal.

Part 5: What I Learned

The study has provided detailed information about stroke, a medical condition that took the life of our father. As explained in the introductory section, one of the primary goals that the researcher was keen on achieving is determining why people who do not fall in the category of vulnerable groups also get affected by stroke (Arulkumaran et al. 87). The investigation has revealed that although a specific cluster of people may be classified as being at high risk of suffering stroke, the condition can also affect anyone who is exposed to risk factors. For instance, a young man aged 40 years who is constantly stressed out may experience a case where one of the blood-supplying arteries ruptures. As such, physical health is just as important and mental health in preventing this disease.

The second goal of the study was to explain how stroke can be diagnosed early enough, especially among those who are physically active. The study reveals that it is dangerous to wait for the major classical signs and symptoms. One should seek immediate medical attention when they have an unexplained headache that is not responding to painkillers. They should insist on a brain scan if they know they fall into vulnerable groups. The global society should take a united front in fighting this endemic disease.

Works Cited

Arulkumaran, Sabaratnam, et al. Oxford Textbook of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Oxford University Press, 2020.

Curtis, Kate, et al. Emergency and Trauma Care for Nurses and Paramedics. Elsevier, 2019.

Dening, Tom, et al., editors. Oxford Textbook of Old Age Psychiatry. Oxford University Press, 2021.

Holland, Kimberly. “Everything You Need to Know About Stroke.” Healthline, 2019, Web.

Ibrahim, Wanis, et al. History Taking and Communication Skill Stations for Internal Medicine Examinations. JP Medical Publishers, 2020.

McConnell, Alistair, et al. “Robotic Devices and Brain-Machine Interfaces for Hand Rehabilitation Post-Stroke.” Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, vol. 49, no. 1, 2017, pp. 449-459.

Norrving, Bo, et al. “Action Plan for Stroke in Europe 2018–2030.” European Stroke Journal, vol. 3, no. 4, 2018, pp. 309-336.

Yamamoto, Joshua, et al. You Can Prevent a Stroke. Rosetta Books, 2019.

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