Every 40 seconds someone suffers a stroke. It is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the US.
Stroke or a sudden interruption in blood flow to the brain is fatal but with the right measures, it can be prevented and treated. In fact, around 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.
Medical technologies like Transcranial Doppler (TCD) can be helpful. It is a painless ultrasound procedure used to analyze the flow of blood in the brain.
Understanding stroke helps know how TCD aids in evaluating the condition.
What Is a Stroke and Why Does It Need Immediate Attention?
Stroke is a sudden attack in the brain, which happens due to interruption in the blood flow in a particular part of the brain. This deprives the brain tissues and cells of oxygen and other vital nutrients required for proper functioning.
When brain tissues are damaged, the abilities that are controlled by that specific area get severely affected. For instance, if cells enabling speech are dead, it impacts a person’s ability to speak clearly.
Stroke can happen to anyone, any time. The sooner the person suffering a stroke is attended to, the better. Signs of strokes show up in physical and mental abilities driven by the area of the brain. These include:
- Trouble speaking or slurred speech
- Confusion or difficulty in comprehending statements
- Numbness in face, leg or arms
- Impaired vision
- Headache and dizziness
- Loss of balance
- Losing consciousness
- Seizures and more
Stroke ranges from minor to severe. Its impact on a person depends on the intensity of the stroke. Someone having a minor stroke will show a symptom for a brief period of time.
The reduction of blood flow is caused by various reasons including narrowing of arteries, blockages, or rupture of an artery in the brain.
Stroke is classified into three main types:
One of the most common types of strokes, it happens when vessels supplying blood to the brain are narrowed or blocked. Blood clots, fatty deposits or any other debris travels through the bloodstream and goes to the brain. The presence of it disrupts free blood flow in the brain.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
Also known as a ministroke, TIA happens because of a temporary reduction of blood supply to the brain. It is similar to an ischemic stroke, where blood clots or debris interrupt blood flow to the brain, but only a few minutes or seconds.
This happens when the blood vessels in the brain break open or start to leak. From high blood pressure to ischemic stroke, the reasons behind a hemorrhagic stroke are many.
Seeking early medical help is crucial as a stroke can lead to permanent disabilities and even death. Several tests such as blood tests, MRI, CT Scan, Carotid Ultrasound, etc. are done to diagnose stroke.
TCD or Transcranial doppler technology is one of them that helps with the diagnosis of stroke and related risk factors.
Transcranial Doppler and How It Helps Detect Stroke
TCD is a painless and non-invasive ultrasound technique used for assessing blood flow in the brain and surrounding areas. The technology uses high-frequency soundwaves, which aren’t heard or felt normally, for evaluation.
The sound waves send information to a computer where images of the blood flow are created on the screen. This helps doctors analyze any weakened areas or narrow down what’s causing the lack of oxygen and nutrient supply.
The test is usually recommended to:
- Examine narrowing of arteries due to clots, fatty build ups or aneurysms, or weakening of a part of the blood vessel
- Examine any vessel bursts
- Examine if medications prescribed to treat blood clots are working fine
All of these reasons are directly related to stroke.
The test studies the blood flow in different arteries transporting blood to the brain. Apart from detecting particles or clots in the bloodstream, it also helps identify a hole in the heart. The hole usually seals after birth, but when it does not it can be a risk factor for stroke.
Conditions like migraine, aneurysm, brain trauma or injury, stroke or any symptoms of stroke, etc. call for the test.
During the test an individual either sits on a chair or lies down. The doctor applies gel on the areas to be scrutinized- typically eyelids, under the chin, parts of the neck or sides of the head. They then move a hand-held device or transducer on the skin to get sound waves to check blood flow patterns to measure stroke or any of its risks.
Transcranial doppler is not time consuming and is painless, making it a safe option for detecting signs for stroke. While the condition is treatable, prevention is always better. Annual health examinations and managing health conditions can be helpful. It is best to consult a doctor for a timely treatment even if you have just experienced a minor stroke.