The ability to promptly recognize cerebral ischemia and its symptoms can save a person’s life, and can greatly decrease the effects of the ischemia itself.
Throughout my time as a rehabilitation professional, I have collected dozens of stories from patients who have told me that they showed certain signs and symptoms characteristic of cerebral ischemia just a few days prior to suffering their major attacks, which in turn resulted in numerous post-ischemia difficulties.
Even if unusual, these symptoms of cerebral ischemia were perceived as minor, and were therefore ignored with the expectation that they would resolve themselves on their own.
When the symptoms of ischemia (which we will see later) appear and disappear within the span of a day, this is known as a Transient Ischemic Attack (T.I.A.).
This is a mild and momentary ischemic event that in most cases is nevertheless a true precursor to ischemia.
If you ever encounter the symptoms of ischemia described below, whether together or individually, don’t waste time and call for help immediately.
Movement problems as a symptom of ischemia
People with ongoing ischemia will likely manifest symptoms associated with the movement of a limb or one half of the body (due to the crossover controls of the two cerebral hemispheres).
These might including difficulties holding up a cup or a glass, or bending the leg to walk. This symptom of ischemia is referred to as “weakness”.
Many patients with ischemia have reported getting up out of bed and falling down immediately.
The first symptoms of hemiparesis might also involve the middle part of the face, thus resulting in difficulties swallowing and articulating words. In fact, many have reported that their loved ones “slurred their words as if they were drunk.”
Sensitivity disorders as a symptom of ischemia
Other symptoms of ischemia might also be associated with the sensations we perceive, including tingling or a lack of sensation, like when the dentist administers an anaesthetic and water comes out the corner your mouth when you try to drink. The same type of thing might happen in cases of cerebral ischemia as well.
Even sounds or lights can be perceived in a distorted manner.
Speech disorders can also be signs of ischemia
Unless the patient is left-handed, when ischemia affects the left hemisphere of the brain it is likely to cause speech disorders (aphasia).
In contrast to the problems articulating words that I talked about when discussing movement disorders, in this case we’re talking about cognitive speech disorders, and some of the symptoms of ischemia can include difficulty speaking, talking nonsense, and/or rambling.
In fact, aphasia is a characteristic aspect of right hemiplegia. The lack of awareness of these disorders, on the other hand, is often linked to left hemiplegia.
The symptoms and signs of cerebral ischemia also include the possibility of severe headaches, vomiting, and loss of consciousness.
Furthermore, doctors regularly observe a patient’s pupils by having them look at a light in order to check the pupils’ reflex, and one sign of cerebral ischemia can often be the loss of this reflex in one of the pupils, so that it doesn’t shrink when exposed to light.
The hour that passes between the start of the ischemia and the early symptoms, and the time in which the patient is admitted to hospital with a stroke unit is known as the Golden Hour.
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