When people hear the word “stroke,” apart from swimming, it generally has an adverse reaction. Whether a heat stroke or a regular stroke, the general population knows it is a life-threatening condition that could prove fatal.
That said, it is important to distinguish between the two. These two have different causes, symptoms, and treatments.
The only thing these two conditions share is that they could prove fatal if first aid is not provided. Understanding the difference between the two could help save a life one day.
Let’s delve into understanding the difference between heat stroke and regular stroke without further ado.
What is a Regular Stroke?
This cerebrovascular accident is caused by the blockage of blood flow to the brain. It could be due to a clot or a rupture. When this happens, the oxygen-rich blood fails to reach certain brain parts, causing those cells to die.
Statistics on strokes in Australia show that in 2018, approximately 40,000 people went through a stroke. It means that each day, there were 100 strokes. Consequently, this also equates to around 50,000 people that may experience this each year.
Out of that number, one in six people will die. It is the country’s third leading cause of death and is also a significant cause of disability.
The cause of this type of stroke is the blockage of blood flow to the brain. This is generally caused by things like plaque buildup and blood clots. Plaque is made up of cholesterol, calcium, and other substances that could slowly build up in your arteries. Over time, this will harden and narrow your arteries, also known as atherosclerosis.
When there is a sudden blockage due to a blood clot or rupture, that’s when this can occur. If the blockage isn’t removed quickly enough, it could lead to permanent damage or even death.
The symptoms can be divided into two categories: physical and mental.
Physical symptoms include weakness on one side of the body, paralysis, loss of balance, and problems with vision.
Mental symptoms include confusion, disorientation, and problems with speaking or understanding speech.
Other general symptoms include a sudden and severe headache that is often described as a “thunderclap headache.”
The best way to remember the physical symptoms is by using the acronym FAST:
- Face drooping
- Arm weakness
- Speech difficulty
- Time to call 911
Ideally, you would want to seek medical attention for a stroke as quickly as possible. The faster you get treatment, the better your chances of survival and minimising damage.
There are two treatments for this type of stroke: thrombolytic therapy and endovascular procedures.
Thrombolytic therapy is used to break up clots that are causing the blockage. This is done by injecting medication through an IV.
Endovascular procedures are done when thrombolytic therapy isn’t possible or hasn’t worked. In this case, a surgeon will go through an incision in your leg to reach the blockage. Once they get it, they remove the clot or place a stent to open up the artery.
What is Heat Stroke?
This condition is a type of non-fever illness caused by your body’s heat-regulating mechanisms failing. When this happens, your body temperature will continue to rise and can eventually lead to brain damage or even death.
In Australia, heat variety stroke is a severe problem during the summer months. There is an average of 20 heat-related deaths each from December to February.
A recent study showed that in an 11-year period between 2006 and 2017, there were over 35,000 deaths in Australia alone.
This usually occurs when you are exposed to high temperatures for extended periods. This could be due to heat waves, working in hot environments, or participating in strenuous physical activity in hot weather.
Other risk factors include dehydration, certain medications, and wearing too many layers of clothing.
The symptoms of this type of stroke can be divided into three categories: mild, moderate, and severe.
Mild symptoms include thirst, sweating, lightheadedness, and muscle cramps.
Moderate symptoms would encompass nausea and vomiting, rapid breathing, and a pulse that is faster than normal.
Severe symptoms include confusion, disorientation, seizures, and unconsciousness.
If you suspect someone is experiencing any of these symptoms, calling for medical help immediately is essential as it can progress very quickly.
The treatment will vary depending on the severity of the symptoms.
For mild cases, the focus will be on cooling the person down as quickly as possible. This can be done by removing any excess clothing, moving them to a cooler environment, and applying cool towels or ice packs to their skin.
Emergency medical help will be necessary for moderate to severe cases. The person will likely need to be hospitalised to be closely monitored. IV fluids will also be given to replace any fluids lost due to sweating.
Sometimes, the person may also need medication to control their blood pressure or seizures.
Focus on Prevention
The best way to deal with both types of these strokes is to prevent them from happening in the first place.
Preventing Regular Strokes
For regular strokes, this means managing any underlying health conditions and knowing the signs and symptoms so that you can get treatment as quickly as possible.
First and foremost, diet is essential to anyone’s health. In the lens of regular strokes, it can mean a world of difference. Eating a healthy diet and having an active lifestyle helps prevent this condition from happening.
At the same time, controlling cholesterol, blood pressure, and any underlying medical conditions will also go a long way.
Preventing Heat Stroke
For heat stroke, this means staying hydrated, taking breaks if you are in a hot environment, and avoiding strenuous activity in hot weather. Wear loose clothing and light to the touch.
Another way of preventing the heat from getting to you is by checking the local weather reports and seeing what the heat levels are like. Similarly, one can take their temperatures. A body temperature of 40 C or higher may indicate that things are getting too hot for you.
Be Prepared When the Stroke Strikes
Following these tips can decrease your chances of suffering from either type of stroke.
If you or someone you know begins to experience any of these symptoms, it is important to call for medical help right away. It can progress very quickly and can be fatal if not treated promptly.
Knowing the difference between these two types of stroke makes you better prepared to deal with either.
If you want to prepare even further, though, learning about the proper first aid practices will ensure that if you are ever put in a position where someone is experiencing a stroke, you can help.
Today, learn life-saving first aid skills by taking CPR First Aid’s Liverpool course.