Facts | Types | Symptoms | Causes | Prevention | Treatment options
stroke is essentially a heart attack in the brain and occurs when blood flow
to the brain is cut off. Decreased blood flow and lack of oxygen can cause
brain cells to die. Individuals with stroke symptoms should seek immediate
emergency medical care to minimize their risk of serious disability or death.
- Strokes are the nation's leading cause of disability and the third leading
cause of death.
- The overall
cost of stroke to the nation is $40 billion a year.
to a study by the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, most people
are not aware of the symptoms of stroke or the possible risk factors involved.
research by the same university reveals that the number of strokes in the
United States is about 200,000 more than previously estimated. So instead
of 500,000 strokes each year, it is more likely that there are around 700,000.
are most common in people age 75 and older.
stroke victims have a high chance of experiencing a recurrent stroke that
is often more disabling and deadly than the first.
Types of Strokes
Involves a blockage of a blood vessel in the brain or neck. Ischemic strokes
account for 80 percent of all strokes and are usually not fatal. They include
cerebral thrombosis, in which a clot forms in an artery in the brain or leading
to the brain, and cerebral embolism, in which a clot forms in another part
of the body and is carried to the brain.
Involves a bleeding into the brain or the area surrounding the brain when
a defective artery bursts.
weakness or paralysis in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of
or difficulty speaking
seeing in one or both eyes
walking or loss of balance and coordination
severe headache with no known cause
people aren’t aware that there are warning signs for strokes. One of
the most common of these is a TIA (transient ischemic attack), or “mini-stroke.”
A TIA occurs when there is a temporary interruption in blood flow to the
brain. These strokes are short-lived but display the same symptoms as a regular
stroke, only less severe. Medical attention should be sought for TIAs, as
they can be indicative of an underlying problem.
warning signs to be aware of include sudden, severe headaches, aneurysms and
following factors increase an individual’s risk of experiencing stroke:
history of stroke
blockage of a blood vessel is the most frequent cause of stroke and is responsible
for about 80 percent of the approximately 700,000 strokes in the United States
each year. Another condition that places someone at risk for a stroke is carotid
stenosis. This occurs when there is a narrowing of the wall in the carotid
artery. This artery travels up the neck and carries blood into the brain.
If small clots block the artery, debris or fatty plaque, a stroke may occur.
best way to prevent strokes is to manage your risk factors: smoking cessation,
treatment of high blood pressure, and control of blood sugar levels among
persons with diabetes. Additionally, physicians may prescribe aspirin, warfarin,
or ticlopidine for some individuals.
here to learn about ways to prevent stroke occurrences.
it comes to treating a stroke, timing is everything. It is crucial to treat
a stroke as soon as possible. Every minute that passes decreases the chance
for recovery. Brain cells cannot function long without just the right amount
of blood flow. If treatment is not found quickly, these cells can die and
possibly cause permanent brain damage. Neurosurgeons can treat strokes only
by preventing (before it happens), responding to (immediately following a
stroke) and intervening during (while it is happening) the stroke.
used to treat stroke victims include drug therapy, imaging tests, treatments
aimed at saving brain tissue and surgery. Blood thinners are often prescribed
that help prevent clotting that can lead to stroke.
on the location of and the damage caused by a stroke, many stroke victims
can recover with physical or occupational therapy. Some lifestyle changes
are also recommended such as eating right and exercising to prevent heart
disease and high blood pressure, not smoking, controlling diabetes and taking
anti-clotting medications such as aspirin.
an artery is over 70 percent blocked, surgery is recommended. This procedure
might involve accessing the artery and widening it to scrape out the buildup
in order to restore proper blood flow. Depending on the case, a surgeon may
instead choose to insert a small, tube-shaped device called a stent that travels
up the narrowing artery and is expanded to widen it.
stenting is used to treat intracranial stenosis. When blood vessels drastically
narrow, blood flow to the brain is limited, which places someone at a high
risk of stroke. Intracranial stenting is performed on patients who have not
responded to nonsurgical treatments and who are at high risk for surgical
A small, mesh tube (stent) is inserted into the blood vessel to enlarge it.
The procedure involves minimal pain and usually provides immediate relief
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