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Stroke: A Cardiovascular Disease

A scientist named John Wafer in 1620 while studying the brain of a pig first developed the theory that explained how stroke occurred (Levine, 2008). In his study, he established that the stroke was caused by the interruption of blood flow to the brain (Levine, 2008). In the 20th century, patients diagnosed with cancer were discouraged from being active and exercising. However, this notion has changed and the treatment for stroke patients today is mostly an exercise, which has yielded remarkable success. Therefore, stroke is a condition whereby the brain tissues are deprived of oxygen due to a severe reduction of the blood flowing to the brain hence lack of oxygen in the tissues.

On a global scale, stroke is considered the second world-leading cause of death. Almost 4.4 million deaths out of the annual 50.5 million are caused by stroke, therefore, accounting for 9 percent of the total global deaths (Hutton, 2005). The highest number of disabilities among adults in America is because of stroke. Research has proved that approximately 4 million adults in America have suffered a stroke and survived and are now living with the aftereffects of the disease (Hutton, 2005). Women are the most affected victims of stroke as they account for 43% of all the strokes that occur annually (Rodriguez, 2013). In addition to that, they also account for 61% of the total deaths caused by stroke, which means they succumb to the effects of cancer more easily compared to men (Levine, 2008).

People who are suffering from stroke under the age of 65 accounts for 28% of the entire stroke victims (Rodriguez, 2013). Among the black Americans, the males are more vulnerable compared to their female counterparts. Compared to the Caucasian population of the Americans, young African Americans are three times more vulnerable (Rodriguez, 2013). The other population that is at a greater risk to have a stroke are those people who have uncontrolled high blood pressure and diabetic patients as well (Maxwell, 2008). However, patients who have controlled high blood pressure are relatively not at as much risk of having a stroke.

Stroke or brain damage is caused mainly by two major mechanisms, which are ischemia and hemorrhage (Rodriguez, 2013). Ischemia accounts for 80% of the total strokes and is caused by the absence of circulating blood, hence depriving the neurons of necessary substrates (Levine, 2008). This affects the brain since it does not store glucose and it depends on the substrates for energy. Without the energy, the brain becomes unable to perform anaerobic metabolism (Levine, 2008). The hemorrhage causes about ten to fifteen percent of global stroke diseases (Levine, 2008). It is caused by vessels that deeply penetrate through causing injury to brain tissues hence disrupting the connecting pathways leading to pressure (Levine, 2008).

The treatment of stroke depends on the above-mentioned causes, the ischemic stroke, or hemorrhagic stroke. Treating the former, physicians seek to restore blood flow to the patient’s brain. In most cases, patients are given clot-busting drugs medically known as Thrombolytic but this has to be within the first four and a half hours of the attack (Rodriguez, 2013). Aspirin is also given to patients who have an ischemic stroke to reduce the probability of having another stroke since it is an anti-thrombotic rug (Hutton, 2005). Aspirin prevents blood clots since it has a blood-thinning effect (Rodriguez, 2013). Other methods include releasing TPA directly to a patient’s brain in the region where the stroke is taking place through a thin tube known as a catheter (Hutton, 2005). Doctors can also physically remove the clot from the brain or perform a carotid endarterectomy procedure.

Hypertension is a great cause of stroke and to reduce the risks of having a stroke, keeping one’s blood pressure under control is one of the most important things to do. With people who have suffered a stroke before, lowering their blood pressure can help reduce the chances of a recurrence. Exercising and maintaining a healthy weight as well as managing stress and monitoring the amounts of sodium and alcohol that one takes in help in keeping high blood pressure under control (Edmans, 2010). Exercising is very important because it helps to reduce the amount of cholesterol in the body hence reducing the chances of blood flow blocking in the arteries. Exercise also lowers blood pressure by ensuring a good level of cholesterol in the body system. Other impacts of exercising are, it helps a person to lose weight, it helps in managing stress, and controlling diabetes (Rodriguez, 2013).

The heart rate can be increased through aerobic exercises. These exercises include walking, cycling, and running. Aerobic exercises reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases which are factors contributing to stroke (Maxwell, 2008). Strength or resistance exercises like weight lifting help reduce the occurrence of a stroke attack. It helps a person to increase lean muscle mass by reducing fat hence increasing metabolism (Maxwell, 2008). Burning calories through maintaining body weight are highly recommended for stroke patients. They include pushups, wearing resistance bands, free weights, weight machines, squatting, and crunches (Maxwell, 2008). Flexibility and balance activities such as stretching and yoga increase motion and help release the muscles (Maxwell, 2008)


Edmans, J. (2010). Occupational Therapy and Stroke. New Jersey, U.S.A: Wiley-Blackwell.

Hutton, C. (2005). After a Stroke: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier. New York, NY: Demos Health.

Levine, P., G. (2008). Stronger After Stroke: Your Roadmap to Recovery. New York, NY: Demos Health.

Maxwell, R. (2008). Taking Charge of Your Stroke Recovery: A Personal Recovery Workbook. Dallas, TX: Taking Charge Books, Inc.

Rodriguez, D. (2013). Stroke Risk Factors: What You Should Know. Understand your possible risk factors for stroke, and learn which ones you can control to reduce your odds, 1 (1), 1-2. Web. 

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