Diabetic stroke is an ischemic stroke that occurs in people with diabetes. It is caused by atherosclerosis in the small blood vessels in the brain, which can lead to blockages. Diabetic stroke can also be caused by a blood clot that forms in the heart and travels to the brain.
Diabetes is a chronic disorder affecting millions of people all over the world. It is caused by a lack of insulin production or the body's inability to use insulin effectively, leading to high blood sugar levels. Diabetic stroke is a type of stroke that occurs in people with diabetes.
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain is disrupted, leading to brain damage. Strokes are classified into two types: ischemic strokes and hemorrhagic strokes. Ischemic stroke happens when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain, whereas hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds.
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What happens inside the brain before the stroke?
Ischemic strokes occur when an artery that supplies blood to the brain becomes blocked, usually due to a buildup of fatty deposits, cholesterol, and other substances in the artery walls. This buildup, known as atherosclerosis, can narrow the arteries and reduce blood flow to the brain. If a blood clot forms in the narrowed artery can completely block blood flow to the brain, leading to an ischemic stroke.
Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding tissue, causing damage to the brain. Before a hemorrhagic stroke, there may be weakness or thinning of the blood vessel walls due to high blood pressure, an aneurysm (a bulge in a blood vessel), or a blood vessel abnormality in the brain.
Symptoms of diabetic stroke
Recognizing the symptoms of a stroke is a crucial first step to getting help. The following are some common diabetic stroke-associated signs:
- Trouble in talking
- Blurry vision
- Extreme fatigue
- Sudden confusion
Causes of diabetic stroke
Here are some of the factors that can contribute to the development of diabetic stroke:
- High blood sugar levels: Diabetes can lead to high blood sugar levels, damage blood vessels and increase the risk of stroke.
- High blood pressure: Diabetes can also cause high blood pressure, increasing the risk of stroke.
- Atherosclerosis: Diabetes can contribute to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis.
- Abnormal blood clotting: Diabetes can cause abnormal blood clotting, which can lead to the formation of blood clots that can block blood flow to the brain, causing a stroke.
- Hyperglycemia: Hyperglycemia is a condition where there is too much glucose in the blood. It can cause damage to the blood vessels, which can increase the risk of stroke.
- Microvascular disease: Diabetes can cause damage to the small blood vessels in the brain, which can increase the risk of stroke.
- Obesity: People with diabetes are more likely to be overweight or obese, which can increase the risk of stroke.
Diet to manage diabetic stroke
Managing diabetic stroke requires a comprehensive approach that involves not only dietary changes but also lifestyle modifications and medical management. Here are some dietary guidelines that can help manage diabetes and prevent a stroke:
- Focus on a balanced diet: Aim to consume a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid processed and high-calorie foods that can increase blood sugar levels.
- Monitor carbohydrate intake: Carbohydrates can significantly impact blood sugar levels. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor carbohydrate intake and choose carbohydrates that are high in fiber and have a low glycemic index. Examples include vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
- Limit saturated and trans fats: Saturated and trans fats can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, which can be particularly dangerous for people with diabetes. Therefore, limit intake of saturated and trans fats by choosing lean protein sources and reducing intake of high-fat dairy products and fatty meats.
- Increase omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Therefore, include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna in your diet, or consider taking an omega-3 supplement.
- Reduce sodium intake: High sodium intake can increase blood pressure, increasing the risk of stroke. Aim to reduce your sodium intake by avoiding processed foods, using herbs and spices to add flavor to your food, and choosing low-sodium options when possible.
- Limit alcohol consumption: Alcohol can significantly increase the risk of stroke and can also negatively impact blood sugar levels. Therefore, limit alcohol consumption or avoid it altogether.
Preventing diabetic stroke
Preventing diabetic stroke involves managing diabetes and its associated risk factors. It includes:
- Keeping blood sugar levels under control
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating a healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats, salt, and sugar
- Engaging in regular physical activity
- Monitoring blood pressure
- Managing cholesterol levels
- Quitting smoking
- Taking medication as prescribed
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Diabetic stroke is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that can have devastating consequences for individuals with diabetes. Knowing the warning signs of diabetic stroke is essential for early diagnosis and treatment, which can significantly improve outcomes and reduce the risk of complications.
Some of the warning signs to watch out for include sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arms, or legs, confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech, difficulty seeing, severe headache, and loss of balance or coordination.
It's crucial to get medical assistance right away if you grow any of these symptoms.