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Stroke

A stroke is a “brain attack”. It can happen to anyone at any time. It occurs when blood flow to an area of brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.

  • Hemorrhagic stroke: A brain aneurysm burst or a weakened blood vessel leak (hemorrhagic) is one of two types of stroke. While the least common of the two types of stroke it most often results in death.
  • Ischemic Stroke: A blood vessel carrying blood to the brain is blocked by a blood clot (ischemic) is one type of stroke. Learn more about the types of ischemic stroke.
  • TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack): A temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain. It doesn’t cause permanent damage, but may signal a full-blown stroke ahead.

Although stroke is a disease of the brain, it can affect the entire body. A common disability that results from stroke is complete paralysis on one side of the body. A related disability that is not as debilitating as paralysis is one-sided weakness. Stroke may cause problems with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment, and memory. Stroke survivors often have problems understanding or forming speech. A stroke can lead to emotional problems. Stroke patients may have difficulty controlling their emotions or may express inappropriate emotions. Many stroke patients experience depression. Stroke survivors may also have numbness or strange sensations.

Causes

Strokes can be caused by either the blood supply to the brain has been cut off or bleeding in the brain. People had high risk include those with:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Family history of stroke

Can Stroke be Prevented?

Symptoms

  • Sudden weakness
  • Paralysis (an inability to move) or numbness of the face, arms, or legs, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion
  • Trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Problems breathing
  • Dizziness, trouble walking, loss of balance or coordination, and unexplained falls
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sudden and severe headache

If you think your or someone else is have a stroke call 911 immediately.

Diagnosis

Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests to diagnose a stroke or TIA.

  • Brain Computed Tomography (CT): A painless test that uses x rays to take clear, detailed pictures of your brain. A brain CT scan can show bleeding in the brain or damage to the brain cells from a stroke. The test also can show other brain conditions that may be causing your symptoms.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): An MRI uses magnets and radio waves to create pictures of the organs and structures in your body. This test can detect changes in brain tissue and damage to brain cells from a stroke. An MRI may be used instead of, or in addition to, a CT scan to diagnose a stroke.
  • Computed Tomography Arteriogram (CTA) and Magnetic Resonance Arteriogram (MRA): Tests that can show the large blood vessels in the brain. These tests may give your doctor more information about the site of a blood clot and the flow of blood through your brain.
  • Carotid Ultrasound: Carotid ultrasound is a painless and harmless test that uses sound waves to create pictures of the insides of your carotid arteries. Carotid ultrasound shows whether plaque has narrowed or blocked your carotid arteries. Your carotid ultrasound test may include a Doppler ultrasound. Doppler ultrasound is a special test that shows the speed and direction of blood moving through your blood vessels.
  • Carotid Angiography: Carotid angiography is a test that uses dye and special x rays to show the insides of your carotid arteries. For this test, a small tube called a catheter is put into an artery, usually in the groin (upper thigh). The tube is then moved up into one of your carotid arteries. Your doctor will inject a substance (called contrast dye) into the carotid artery. The dye helps make the artery visible on x-ray pictures.

Treatment

Your treatment will depend on what type of stroke you have. Your doctor may prescribe medications. He may recommend surgery. You may need rehabilitation to restore language, speech, muscle, swallowing and eating.

Rehabilitation After Stroke

Managing Your Condition

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet.
  • Aim for a healthy weight.
  • Manage stress.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Quit smoking

Preventing a Second Stroke

Resources