Total Anterior Circulation Stroke: Management and Symptoms
Total Anterior Circulation Stroke is a failure in the supply of blood to the anterior of the brain. Literally speaking, anterior means ‘front’, hence, this when this condition prevails, the parts of the brain that are on the front side are affected and they stop functioning.
The brain, being one of the most important organs of the body, needs a constant supply of blood. The network of vessels in the anterior cerebellum is dense and branches out deep into the brain tissues. It is this network that enables the brain to perform crucial motor and sensory activities in the body.
Before delving into the symptoms of Total Anterior Circulation Stroke that include dysphasia and hemianopia, it is important to take a look at the reason this circulation is so critical for a healthy human being. Every neuron in the brain respires to produce energy. There are 480 million neurons in the brain, all of which need a constant supply of oxygen to breath. The carbon dioxide produced is then given out to the circulating blood to be expelled via the lungs.
With the produced energy, neurons communicate with the body and relay messages that are produced in the brain. These messages are associated with voluntary and involuntary actions that a body needs to perform on a daily basis. As a result of Total Anterior Circulation infract, the blood vessels that deliver oxygenated blood to the front of the brain get blocked.
The hindrance in these cerebral vessels is usually in the form of plaque- a collection of cholesterol, excess fat compounds, calcium, debris and white blood cells. Plaque collects in the inner lining of the arteries, and slowly grows to a size that makes it impossible for blood to pass through. It is at this stage that a Total Anterior Circulation Stroke occurs because as soon as circulation is obstructed, the sensitive neurons are at a high risk of cellular damage.
According to research, cerebral neurons start dying approximately six minutes after circulation of fresh blood stops, leading to a Total Anterior Circulation Infract. Moreover, occlusion of the middle cerebral artery is the most common type of Total Anterior Circulation Infract. It affects 90% of infants and almost two thirds of all first stroke patients.
Unless the condition is diagnosed, it is known as Total Anterior Circulation Syndrome.
Risk Factors of TACS Stroke
Who is more likely to have Total Anterior Circulation Stroke and at what age? These are some of the most frequently asked questions that doctors are confronted with. Be it a caregiver or a patient, it is essential to be aware of the risk factors associated with Total Anterior Circulation Infract so that one can take the necessary steps needed to counter it. Some of the proven non-modifiable risk factors include:
Gender: Males are more prone to Total Anterior Circulation Stroke than females.
Age: Chances of PACS stroke increase with age.
Race: African Americans are at a high risk than Asians who are at a higher risk than Caucasians.
Genetic: Individuals who have a family history of Total Anterior Circulation Infract and heart disease are more likely to suffer from PACS Stroke.
Some of the proven modifiable risk factors include:
Smoking: a lot of the debris in the plaque collection comes from smoking. It also weakens the lining of the lungs and leads to abnormal heart conditions that are a direct source of emboli in the brain.
Hypertension: hypertension causes increased blood pressure and hence, a high chance of Total Anterior Circulation stroke.
Alcohol Abuse: it weakens the overall immune system of the body.
Diabetes: irregular insulin production can disrupt many processes in the body, including energy production in the brain.
Symptoms and Complications of TACS Stroke
Symptoms of Total Anterior Circulation Infract are not always seen in unison. Many patients observe a mild onset of symptoms, while others feel them severely. This variation is owing to the different degrees of arterial blockades that are possible for a PACS stroke to occur.
Since the anterior part of the brain is damaged when Total Anterior Circulation Stroke results, the symptoms of the condition relate to the functions that the anterior brain performs in a healthy individual. To better understand how these symptoms will surface, it is advisable to keep the following three evolutions of a PACS stroke in mind.
• Rapid onset. The stroke happens suddenly before any action could be taken.
• Full intensity reached in 24 hours. PACS stroke starts gradually and builds up in 24 hours.
• Stepwise worsening. Total Anterior Circulation Infract happens in steps, with enough gap between each step for an action to be taken. 30% of all Total Anterior Circulation syndrome patients see a PACS stroke of this nature.
Symptoms of Total Anterior Circulation Infract are:
Unilateral weakness in the body: Weakness gradually builds up to numbness and loss of sensation in one half of the body.
Hemianopia: Hemianopia is the loss of sight from one side, either right or left, depending on the extent of brain injury. Hemianopia breaks down a patient’s visual filed into half by making him unable to see the other half clearly.
Dysphasia: Problems with swallowing are medically termed as Dysphasia. Since a patient’s body becomes numb or the brain stops coordinating with the body, the swallowing muscles are often unable to contract and relax. Dysphasia is a common problem in PACS stroke patients. It is usually treated using physiotherapy exercises that target the muscles in the throat to regain flexibility. Till they do, a feeding tube is inserted into the stomach so that the patient can receive essential nutrients for the mind and the body to get stronger.
Cognitive impairment: This is perhaps the biggest loss that a PACS stroke patient can suffer from. With the neurons in the brain affected badly after the occlusion, they are unable to process information. A patient has difficulty with everything that requires cognitive thinking. He cannot speak properly nor understand and process speech. Cognitive impairment can be improved using occupational therapy and speech therapy.