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Diabetic Stroke: What You Need To Know

Diabetic Stroke: What You Need To Know

Diabetes is a chronic condition associated with high levels of blood glucose or blood sugar in the body due to the cell’s resistance to, or lack of insulin in the body. Left unmanaged, it could lead to serious complications such as kidney failure or diabetic stroke.

Basically, this condition is due to the inability of the pancreas to produce enough Insulin hormones to regulate the amount of blood sugar that comes from our food intake and into the blood vessels.

Continued lack of production of insulin over time may result in high amounts of blood sugar in the bloodstream. In turn, this condition may lead to serious health issues in our kidneys, heart, eyes, and foot, as well as depression.

The Long-term Effects of Uncontrolled Diabetes

However, another health complication that is caused by diabetes is stroke. It is the sudden halt in the brain’s blood flow due to damaged or blocked arteries.

Longer periods of blockage may result in damages in a part of the brain tissue. This could affect one’s physical and cognitive functions. Patients with diabetes are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to experience stroke than those without any symptoms associated with diabetes.

Considered as a serious medical concern, diabetic stroke can be treated and prevented.

Understanding Diabetes and Stroke: What’s the Connection?

According to the American Stroke Association, diabetic stroke happens when the blood vessels contain excessive amounts of blood sugar due to the inability of the pancreas to create insulin hormones to aid in transferring glucose to the cells to generate energy for the body.

This large amount of blood sugar may result in damage in the bloodstream and existence of a blood clot that may contribute to the blockage of blood flow.

Longer periods of blockage may result in damages in the brain tissue.

Stroke can be more prevalent for patients with diabetes than those who don’t have the condition.

However, the Stroke Association noted some other risk factors that increase the probability of experiencing stroke among people with diabetes, such as:

  • Age. Patients that are over the age of 55 may be more prone to stroke as the arteries become more stiff as time passes.
  • History of stroke. If the patient had experienced a stroke, or transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke that lasted for a few minutes
  • Family’s medical history. If the patient’s family has a medical history of having stroke or TIA
  • Existing medical condition. If the patient has existing heart disease, high blood pressure, and high amounts of “bad” cholesterol
  • Lifestyle. If the patient is overweight, has excessive belly fat, not physically active, or has been smoking;

Signs of Stroke

Regardless if due to diabetes or other conditions, stroke can be experienced by patients once a part of a brain tissue has been damaged due to loss of blood flow. This can manifest through the patients’ inability to perform physical and cognitive tasks.

The Stroke Association has provided a guide in recognizing the signs of stroke. Dubbed as the “FAST test,” this guide instructs people to identify the following signs of stroke:

  • Facial movements – One sign of an impending stroke is the inability to perform facial movements, or when parts of the facial skin are sagging.
  • Arm weakness – A notable characteristic of stroke is the numbness of one side of the body. If a person cannot move or raise both arms, he or she might be experiencing the onset of a stroke.
  • Speech problems – Stroke can also bring difficulty in communicating and constructing speech. Thus, a person with a stroke cannot communicate clearly and finds it difficult to actually speak.
  • Time to call Emergency Help – Once assessed and proven that the person is manifesting signs of stroke, you should call for emergency. (In the Philippines, you should call 911 or the number of the nearest hospital instead.)

Aside from these, the following are other warning signs of an impending stroke:

  • Weakness and numbness on a side of the body, including the legs, hands or feet;
  • Having difficulty in finding words or speaking in clear sentences;
  • Experiencing blurred vision or loss of eyesight in one or both eyes;
  • Experiencing memory loss or confusion, as well as dizziness or a sudden fall;
  • Abrupt severe headache.

Treatment and Prevention

As stroke is a serious condition, it is important that the patient should be brought to the hospital for medical assistance and intervention. There, patients will be treated with the following:

Thrombolysis

This involves the use of “clot-busting drugs” to reduce the damage brought by the blood-clotting and the subsequent stroke.

Surgical treatments

There are instances where the blockage of blood stream and blood-clotting should be addressed through surgery. This includes the following:

  • Carotid Artery Surgery – This procedure involves removal of fatty deposits in the artery, thus helps in restoring the blood supply in the brain
  • Carotid stenting – This involves opening the narrowed artery using a small tube with an attached balloon that can be inflated during the procedure.

Other forms of therapy

As stroke affects the physical and cognitive functions of patients, they should be given physical, occupational and speech therapy to restore such functions. Psychological counseling may also be included.

Diabetes and stroke can be prevented through the following:

  • Check your cholesterol levels. Control the amounts of cholesterol in the body by limiting the intake of fat and cholesterol-based foods and taking prescribed medications.
  • Avoid smoking. Limit your alcohol intake.
  • Check your blood pressure. Manage it through healthy diet and taking medications.
  • Exercise regularly
  • Follow prescribed instructions in changing your diet and using preventive medications.

What is the Diabetic Diet?

Key Takeaways

Diabetes is a serious medical condition that can lead to other serious complications, such as stroke, if not treated. Diabetic stroke, much like other forms of stroke, can affect the patient’s life and well-being if not treated properly.

As the signs of stroke manifest, do not hesitate to let the patient be treated in the hospital. Likewise, diabetes and stroke can be avoided through healthy lifestyle choices.

Learn more about diabetes complications, here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources
Complications: Stroke https://www.diabetes.org/diabetes/complications/stroke Date accessed, March 23, 2021 Diabetes Stroke and Prevention https://www.stroke.org/en/about-stroke/stroke-risk-factors/diabetes-and-stroke-prevention Date accessed, March 23, 2021 Diabetes https://www.stroke.org.uk/what-is-stroke/are-you-at-risk-of-stroke/diabetes Date accessed, March 23, 2021 What is a stroke? http://www.strokecenter.org/patients/about-stroke/what-is-a-stroke/ Date accessed, March 23, 2021 What is Diabetes? https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes Date accessed, March 23, 2021 Symptoms of Stroke? https://www.stroke.org.uk/what-is-stroke/what-are-the-symptoms-of-stroke Date accessed, March 23, 2021
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Written by Dan Navarro Updated Mar 27
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel