Hypoglycemia is a complication of diabetes in which the blood glucose level in the body drops to a dangerous level. A stroke occurs once the blood supply to the brain is disrupted by a burst or blocked vessel in the brain. Take note that stroke can kill the brain cells and cause permanent brain damage. Even though individuals with diabetes face a higher risk for having an actual stroke, the symptoms of hypoglycemia can also mimic those of a stroke. The term “hypoglycemic stroke” refers to the stroke-like symptoms and brain damage due to severe hypoglycemia.
Close look on hypoglycemia
The level of blood glucose that drops below 70 mg/dL indicates that the individual has hypoglycemia. This condition is triggered by certain medications that were prescribed to manage diabetes, exercising in a strenuous manner without eating enough foods, unable to use medications as prescribed and failure to eat enough food.
Hypoglycemia is also caused by liver disease, consumption of alcohol and a pancreatic tumor that releases excess insulin. Some individuals who do not have diabetes usually have idiopathic hypoglycemia which does not have a known cause.
Stroke or brain attack averts blood and oxygen from reaching the brain that causes long-lasting damage in just a span of a few seconds. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain. The clogged arteries can also cause an ischemic stroke. As for a hemorrhagic stroke, it occurs due to a weakened blood vessel in the brain that ruptures and leaks blood into the brain which causes damage to the brain cells.
What are the common symptoms?
The symptoms common to stroke and hypoglycemia include blurred vision, headache, fatigue, memory loss, tingling and numbness, weakness, mood changes, unclear thinking, fainting, muscle pain and loss of consciousness. Insulin shock that is due to low blood sugar level or hypoglycemia can result to coma. Individuals who endured a severe type of stroke might progress into a state of coma. Lasting impairment to the nervous system as well as the brain can be triggered by both conditions.
What are the stroke-like hypoglycemic effects?
Once the glucose levels of an individual falls below 18 mg/dL, failure of brain energy can occur which is confirmed with an EEG which measures the electrical activity in the brain. The destruction of the brain neurons manifests and leads to other lasting brain damage once the electrical activity of the brain stops.
Even though hypoglycemia brain damage strikingly resembles an ischemic stroke, there are differences such as lack of damage to the brainstem and cerebellum. Just with a stroke, hypoglycemia is considered as an attack to the brain that kills the brain cells.