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Frequently Asked Questions

  • The two forms of stroke are ischemic – blockage of a blood vessel supplying the brain, and hemorrhagic – bleeding into or around the brain. In an ischemic stroke, a blood clot blocks or plugs a blood vessel or artery in the brain. About 80 percent of all strokes are ischemic. In a hemorrhagic stroke, a blood vessel in the brain breaks and bleeds into the brain. About 20 percent of strokes are hemorrhagic.

  •  When a stroke occurs, the blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly interrupted. Brain cells die when they no longer receive oxygen and nutrients from the blood or there is sudden bleeding into or around the brain.

  • Symptoms include sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble with walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination; or sudden severe headache with no known cause.

    An easy was to remember the symptoms is BE FAST

    • Balance loss
    • Eyes - vision loss
    • Facial Droop
    • Arm Weakness
    • Speech
    • Time
  • Because stroke injures the brain, one is not able to perceive one's own problems correctly. To a bystander, the stroke patient may seem unaware or confused. A stroke victim's best chance is if someone around her recognizes the stroke and acts quickly.

  • During a stroke, bystanders should know the signs and act in time. If you believe someone is having a stroke — if the person loses the ability to speak, to move an arm or leg on one side, or experiences facial paralysis on one side — call 911 immediately. Stroke is a medical emergency. Immediate stroke treatment may save someone's life and enhance his or her chances for successful rehabilitation and recovery.

  • Ischemic strokes, the most common strokes, can be treated with a drug called tPA, which dissolves artery-obstructing clots. The window of opportunity to use tPA to treat stroke patients is small, so the sooner stroke patients can get to the hospital to be evaluated and receive treatment, the better their outcome. Stroke patients who receive tPA for their stroke symptoms are at least 30 percent more likely to recover from their stroke with less disability after three months than those who present to the hospital after three hours and are thus unable to receive tPA.

  • There are things you can do to lower your risk of stroke. High blood pressure increases your risk of stroke four to six times. Heart disease, especially a condition known as atrial fibrillation, can double your risk of stroke. Your risk also increases if you smoke, have diabetes, sickle cell disease, high cholesterol, or a family history of stroke.

  • Generally, there are three treatment stages for stroke: prevention, therapy immediately after the stroke, and post-stroke rehabilitation. Therapies to prevent a first or recurrent stroke are based on treating an individual's underlying risk factors for stroke such as high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, and diabetes. Acute stroke therapies try to stop a stroke while it is happening by quickly dissolving the blood clot causing an ischemic stroke or by stopping the bleeding of a hemorrhagic stroke. Post-stroke rehabilitation helps individuals overcome disabilities that result from stroke damage. Medication or drug therapy is the most common treatment for stroke. The most popular classes of drugs used to prevent or treat stroke are antithrombotics (antiplatelet drugs and anticoagulants or "blood thinners") and thrombolytics.

  • 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, called hemiplegia. A related disability that is not as debilitating as paralysis is one-sided weakness or hemiparesis. 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; patients may have difficulty controlling their emotions or may express inappropriate emotions, and many stroke patients experience depression. Stroke survivors may also have numbness or strange sensations, including pain which is often worse in the hands and feet and is made worse by movement and temperature changes, especially cold temperatures.

    Recurrent stroke is frequent; about 25% of people who recover from their first stroke will have another stroke within five years.

  • Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term adult disability. Four million Americans are living with the effects of stroke. The length of time to recover from a stroke depends on its severity. Fifty to 70 percent of stroke survivors regain functional independence, but 15 to 30 percent are permanently disabled.

    To reduce your risk of stroke, monitor your blood pressure, track your cholesterol level, stop smoking, exercise regularly, and find out if you should be taking a drug to reduce blood clotting.

 
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