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A stroke occurs when blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and food. Within minutes of blockage, brain cells begin to die, causing severe lasting damage such as partial paralysis, loss of sensation, or inability to speak. Blood supply can be limited secondary to a blockage of the blood vessels, which is referred to as an ischemic stroke, or secondary to a rupture or leak of a blood vessels, which is referred to as a hemorrhagic stroke. If symptoms of the stroke resolve within 24 hours, it is referred to as a transient ischemic attack (TIA). If symptoms persist more than 24 hours, it is diagnosed as a stroke.
A quick acronym to see if you or someone you know has had a stroke is FAST:
T—Time to call 911
The following factors increase your risk of stroke:
If you are having a stroke, you or a loved one must call 911 immediately. An emergency team needs to evaluate the type of stroke you’re having and the areas of your brain affected by the stroke. They will need to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms, such as a brain tumor or a drug reaction.
Your doctor may use several tests to determine your risk of stroke, including:
Symptoms of a stroke include:
Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Mortality rates are declining, however. Over 75% of patients survive a first stroke during the first year, and over half survive beyond 5 years. If someone who has had a stroke gets treatment within 3- 4.5 hours from when stroke symptoms first started, rate of recovery are vastly improved.
Improving the overall health of your body and heart can help reduce your risk of future strokes.
The following are tips for a heart-healthy lifestyle:
Most heart diseases and risk factors contributing to heart diseases are screened for at regular physicals. The American Heart Association stresses the importance of regular screening for cardiovascular disease. American heart association volunteer and director of William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, Barry A. Franklin, Ph.D., said on the matter, “regular cardiovascular screening is important because it helps you detect risk factors in their earliest stages. This way, you can treat the risk factor with lifestyle changes and pharmacotherapies, if appropriate, before it ultimately leads to the development of cardiovascular disease.”
Your doctor will most likely check the following:
If your doctor suspects you have a heart disease after a thorough examination, he or she may conduct several diagnostic tests to arrive at a diagnosis.
Studies show that approximately 80% of strokes are preventable, given that preventative measures are taken early enough.
Preventative measures against stroke include:
After you’ve suffered a stroke you’ll probably be prescribed several medications to help prevent blood clots that can cause another stroke.
The types of medicines that prevent clotting are:
Anticoagulant medicines, or blood thinners. These reduce the chance of your getting clots in your arteries. Some anticoagulants include:
Side effects of anticoagulants include:
*** Because anticoagulants lengthened the time required to form a blood clot, patients taking anticoagulants are at a higher risk for excessive bleeding and hemorrhaging. Speak to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking anticoagulants. It is especially important to take into consideration this potentially life threatening side effect.
Anti-platelet medicines, which prevent clotting. They include:
Side effects of antiplatelet medications include:
Cholesterol-lowering drugs are also used to prevent strokes, including:
Side effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs include:
Blood pressure medications may be prescribed if your blood pressure is too high, like:
The following list of supplements is offered by the University of Maryland Medical Center. Always check with your cardiologist or primary doctor before adding supplements to your regimen for treating and preventing heart failure. Many people with heart conditions take multiple medications, including blood-thinning medications, blood pressure medications, and others. The supplements below may interact with these (and other medications) and may not be right for people with certain medical conditions.
Stress reduction practices. Since stress is associated with heart disease, it’s prudent to try techniques to help reduce it. The following methods have been shown to reduce stress in some people:
Having a stroke can be difficult for you and your family, but there are things you can do to make your life after a stroke easier and healthier.
You should not hesitate to call 911 if you are experiencing any of these symptoms that come on suddenly. You could be having a STROKE.
In addition to your primary care physician, you may want to include an internist (specialist in internal medicine), a neurologist (nervous system specialist), a cardiologist (heart specialist) and/or a neurosurgeon (surgeon specializing in brain and spinal cord operations).
You will probably have different questions to ask your doctor depending on your heart condition. Be open about all your concerns. If you’re having difficulty focusing, bring along a friend or family member. Below you’ll find general questions you might want to ask your doctor about heart disease as suggested by the American Heart Association.
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