see also Stroke - First Aid
Occurs because blood supply to the brain is disturbed or insufficient; depending on the part of the brain affected, there may be sudden loss of speech or movement, sudden heaviness in the limbs, numbness, blurred vision, Confusion, Dizziness, or loss of consciousness. If symptoms last for 24 hours or longer, a full stroke has occurred; if they last for a few hours only, then a Transient Ischaemic Attack or TIA has occurred. Appropriate action, in either case, is to contact Emergency Medical Services; if the person loses consciousness, put him or her in the recovery position (see First Aid). In fact any of the above symptoms should be reported to a medical doctor - they can be early warnings of a stroke or TIA.
The particular event which starves the brain of vital oxygen (Ischaemia literally means 'keeping back blood) may be a Thrombosis, an embolism, or a haemorrhage. Cerebral thrombosis usually occurs because the arteries which Supply the brain have become narrowed or damaged by Atherosclerosis or hardened by arteriosclerosis; blood flow becomes so sluggish that a clot forms, creating a partial or total blockage. A cerebral embolism is caused by a blood clot which breaks away from an artery wall somewhere else in the body and lodges in an artery supplying the brain. A cerebral haemorrhage occurs when blood leaks or bursts out of a weak-walled artery in the brain; pressure of blood in a confined space eventually slows down the bleeding and a clot is formed. In each case, the result is the same: some part of the brain has its blood and oxygen supply cut off. Once damaged, brain cells do not regenerate, although their function may be taken over by uninjured cells.
More people die of coronary artery disease every year than die of strokes, but hardened, furred up arteries are the immediate cause of both. Factors which contribute to artery disease are High Blood Pressure, smoking, and raised cholesterol levels; the latter are, in turn, the result of eating too much animal fat, not taking enough exercise, and Stress.
One in three first strokes is fatal; for those who survive, full recovery is as likely as some degree of impairment, though much depends on the severity of the stroke and the kind of care and rehabilitation given afterwards. Speech therapy and physiotherapy can improve talking and walking; anticoagulants such as aspirin can prevent further blood clots, but should not be prescribed to anyone who has a history of stomach ulcers (see Peptic Ulcer), or who develops sensitivity to aspirin (see Tinnitus); surgery can also remove obstructions from arteries.
Constitutional treatment from an experienced homeopath can aid recover after a stroke; changes in diet, exercise, and lifestyle will almost certainly be recommended too. In addition there are specific remedies which can be given during and immediately after a stroke, and during recovery.
Specific remedies to be given every 15 minutes for up to 10 doses during a stroke while medical help is being sought
- Face hot and flushed, headache, eyes wide and staring Belladonna 30c
- At first signs of attack, especially if brought on by heavy meal or alcohol Nux 30c
- Person panicky and afraid of dying once he or she realises what is happening Aconite 30c
- In later stages, person lapsing into unconsciousness, face bluish and congested, breathing heavy and laboured Opium 30c
- Specific remedy to be taken 4 times daily for up to 2 weeks immediately after a stroke Arnica 30c
Specific remedies to be taken 4 times daily for up to 3 weeks during recovery
- Person elderly, physically and mentally weak Baryta 6c
- Where main after effects are numbness and trembling, inability to speak, pain at back of head Gelsemium 6c
- Speech very slow Lachesis 6c
- Speech unintelligible, tendency to clutch private parts Hyoscyamus 6c
- Person clearly depressed Aurum 6c
Self-help: To prevent a stroke in the first place or to prevent recurrence, cut down on animal fats (including dairy products) and protein, increase fibre intake, eat fresh fruit and vegetables every day, try to lose some weight, or at least take more exercise, stop smoking, and learn to relax or meditate if you suffer from stress or high blood pressure. Extra vitamin C can do no harm, but Vitamins E and B6 should only be taken under medical supervision.