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Chloromycetin (Chloramphenicol)

To most people a ‘stroke’ means a sudden weakness down one side of the body due to a clot of blood in the brain. In fact there are many types of stroke. The full blown stroke, where the weakness is very obvious, can be due to a clot of blood but is most commonly due to a gradual furring-up of an important blood vessel; finally the remaining narrow passage blocks and no more blood can reach that bit of the brain. Occasionally the stroke is due to a blood vessel rupturing (like the blow-out of a car tyre) and this is usually due to a past history of high blood pressure. All of the above types of stroke happen quite quickly and can be fatal. The many who survive often take many weeks or months to recover the use of their limbs and sometimes speech.
It is now recognized that not all strokes are as major as these. In elderly people especially small strokes can occur without any great weakness of the arms or legs being noticed. It is thought that the furred-up blood vessels cause very small clots of blood to form. These small clots get carried to the brain. If big enough they can cause slight weakness of an arm or leg (or both) but this usually goes within about 24 hours. Sometimes they cause no weakness at all but make the person confused. This too often passes but as the clots recur the same thing happens again, sometimes accompanied by blackouts or falls. This condition can be difficult to diagnose unless some weakness is seen or found or the person is known to have affected blood vessels.
These repeated mini-strokes or TIA’s (transient ischemic attacks) are important for many reasons. They sometimes occur before a major stroke, and hence give a warning so that treatable causes of major strokes can be looked for. In their own right, however, they can be treated by taking a small dose of soluble aspirin a day (the aspirin makes the blood less sticky and less likely to form clots), and there are other drugs for people who cannot take aspirin for medical reasons. The repeated small strokes always cause some brain damage and if enough occur over a long time a form of dementia can be produced.

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