What are Strokes?

Strokes, also known as cerebrovascular accidents (CVA) in Singapore, are medical emergencies that occur when there is a sudden disruption of blood flow to the brain.

This disruption can be due to an ischaemic stroke (blocked blood vessel) or haemorrhagic stroke (ruptured blood vessel). This is when the brain does not receive enough oxygen and nutrients and the brain cells become damaged or die.

Strokes occur when blood flow to the brain is suddenly disrupted

What are the common causes of Strokes in Singapore?

Strokes can be categorised into 2 types, each with its own causes, these are:

Ischaemic stroke

An ischaemic stroke is the most common type of stroke that occurs when a blood vessel supplying the brain with blood becomes blocked or narrowed, often due to a blood clot. There are two types of ischaemic stroke, these are:

  • Thrombotic stroke: a thrombotic stroke happens when a thrombus or blood clot grows and develops in the blood vessel within the brain.
  • Embolic stroke: an embolic stroke happens when a clot forms elsewhere in your body and travels to the brain.

Haemorrhagic stroke

A haemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel in or around the brain ruptures and leaks blood, causing pressure and damage to the surrounding brain tissue. A haemorrhagic stroke can occur in two ways:

What are the symptoms of Strokes?

The symptoms of a stroke are:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body (face, arm, or leg)
  • Trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Severe headache with no known cause
  • Difficulty walking, dizziness, or loss of balance
  • Vision problems (blurred or double vision)

Like most diseases, early treatment is paramount in the recovery of a stroke. Recognise stroke symptoms using the act F.A.S.T acronym.

  • Face: facial droop and uneven smile.
  • Arm: weakness and numbness in the arm.
  • Speech: difficulty in speaking and understanding, often accompanied by slurred speech.
  • Time: time to call 995 and go to the hospital immediately.
Act fast in the event of a stroke, early treatment is vital for recovery.

Are Strokes painful?

Strokes themselves are not typically painful, but in some cases, they can cause sudden and severe headaches, especially if they are haemorrhagic strokes. The pain experienced during a stroke is more often associated with the underlying cause or related complications, rather than the stroke itself.

Who is at risk of Strokes in Singapore?

In Singapore, as in many other countries, certain factors can increase the risk of strokes. While strokes can affect anyone, some individuals may have a higher likelihood of experiencing a stroke.

Common risk factors include:

  • Age: the risk of strokes tends to increase, with older adults being more susceptible.
  • High blood pressure: uncontrolled high blood pressure significantly raises the risk of strokes.
  • Diabetes: individuals with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing strokes, particularly if blood sugar levels are poorly managed.
  • Smoking: damages blood vessels and increases the risk of blood clots.
  • High cholesterol: can contribute to the formation of plaques in blood vessels.
  • Family history: your risk may be higher if you have a family history of strokes.
  • Obesity and physical inactivity: being overweight and not regularly engaging in physical activity can increase the risk of a stroke.
 old stroke patient
Older individuals are at increased risk of stroke.

How are Strokes diagnosed?

Diagnosing a stroke typically involves a combination of tests such as:

  • Physical assessment: a physical assessment of your symptoms and a thorough investigation of your medical history will aid in diagnosis. Be sure to explain all your symptoms and when they started, and if there are any medications or lifestyle factors that may have contributed to your symptoms. A physical examination will be performed to check for neurological deficits and other signs of a stroke. Specific tests can include assessing the strength, sensation and coordination can help your healthcare provider identify potential stroke-related impairments.
  • Imaging tests: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (link to service page) or computed tomography scans (CT scans) (link to service page) are essential in confirming the diagnosis and determining the type of stroke you are experiencing or experienced.
stroke MRI
An MRI of the brain can help determine the type of stroke that occurred.

What are the treatment options available for Strokes in Singapore?

The treatment options for strokes aim to restore blood flow to the brain as quickly as possible to minimise brain damage and improve outcomes. The specific treatment will depend on the type of stroke and its severity.

Ischaemic strokes

  • Thrombolytic therapy: where medication is administered to dissolve the clot and restore blood flow.
  • Mechanical thrombectomy: a thrombectomy (link to service page) procedure is performed to physically remove the clot using a catheter.

Haemorrhagic strokes

  • Surgical intervention: required to stop the bleeding (link to cerebral aneurysm repair service page) and relieve pressure on the brain.

Following the acute phase of treatment, rehabilitation will play a crucial role in stroke recovery. You will likely be required to undergo physical, occupational, and speech therapy to regain lost functions and improve your quality of life.

Time is critical in stroke management and early intervention can significantly impact the overall recovery process.

Frequently asked questions  

What should I do if I suspect myself of having a stroke?

If you suspect yourself of having a stroke, you should immediately dial 995 to call for emergency medical assistance.

What is the window for the treatment of strokes?

The window for stroke treatment is limited and you should seek immediate medical attention within the first few hours of experiencing stroke symptoms.

Is there any way to prevent strokes from occurring in the future?

Yes, there are ways you can reduce the risk of strokes in the future such as leading a healthy lifestyle by being physically active and eating healthy, ensuring your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol are well-controlled, and seeing your doctor regularly for follow-up sessions.

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Copyright © 2023 Chou Neuroscience Clinic. All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2023 Chou Neuroscience Clinic. All Rights Reserved