Stroke occurs when an artery in the brain is suddenly blocked by a clot (called an ischemic stroke) or bursts and bleeds into the brain (called a hemorrhagic stroke). This results in interruption or reduction of nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood supply to a part of brain, causing brain cells to die.
Just like a heart attack, stroke is sometimes referred to as “brain attack”. Damaged part of brain may not work properly or be able to control the body as it once did.
Brain damage can begin within minutes. Timely care and treatment can help limit damage to the brain and increase the chance of a complete recovery.
Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability among adults. Every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke in the U.S.
There are several risk factors which increase the likelihood of stroke. Dr. Sami, a board certified cardiologist in Baytown, recommends his patients to have regular checkups and treatment of these conditions to reduce their risk of stroke.
These risk factors and conditions include:
- High blood pressure – Hypertension is the leading cause and strongest predictor of a stroke
- Older age – Risk of stroke doubles every decade between the ages of 55 and 85
- Race – African Americans and Hispanics have higher risk of having a stroke
- Smoking – Increases chance of blood clots. If you smoke, take steps to quit
- Mini-strokes or TIAs
- Physical inactivity – Sedentary lifestyle increases your risk of stroke
- Diabetes – Presence of diabetes mellitus is an independant risk factor for stroke
- Obesity – Losing as little as 5 to 10 pounds has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke
- High cholesterol levels – increase the chance of plaque build up in the arteries
- Carotid Artery Disease – Plaque build up in neck arteries can result in stroke
- Peripheral Artery Disease – People with peripheral artery disease have a higher risk of carotid artery disease, which raises their risk of stroke
- Atrial Fibrillation – AFib increase chances of stroke up to five times
- Other Heart Disease – Coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure increase risk of stroke
Many of the above risk factors occur together, which can make a stroke even more likely.
The acronym F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the signs of stroke, and can help identify the onset of stroke more quickly:
- Face drooping – if the person tries to smile does one side of the face droop?
- Arm weakness – if the person tries to raise both their arms does one arm drift downward?
- Speech difficulty – if the person tries to repeat a simple phrase is their speech slurred or strange?
- Time to call 911 – if any of these signs are observed, contact the emergency services and report that it is a stroke.
Other symptoms may include:
- Numbness of face or body oarts
- Blurry vision or double vision
- Loss of balance
- Severe headache
Brain damage can begin within minutes and timely treatment is crucial to limit brain damage. So even if you are unsure, call 911 anyway.
Stroke is a true medical emergency and timely care is very important. If you or any loved one is having the above symptoms, call 911 immediately to be transported safely in an ambulance to the nearest hospital.
Intially emergency personnel and doctors need to find out when the symptoms started and what kind of stroke it is: ischemic or hemorrhagic. This done by a quick interview of the patient or the family and a Computerized tomography (CT) scan.
CT scan – A series of X-rays that can show hemorrhages, strokes, tumors, and other conditions within the brain.
The tests ordered by your doctor will be different for everybody, but common tests include:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) – Evaluate for abnormal heart rhythm or atrial fibrillation
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – radio waves and magnets detect brain tissue damaged by an ischemic stroke and brain hemorrhages
- Carotid Doppler Ultrasound – Evaluate for plaque buildup in the neck arteries
- Echocardiogram – Ultrasound of the heart to evaluate function of the heart and known as ejection fraction and find a source of clots in your heart
- Cerebral angiogram – Invasive procedure to obtain detailed voew of brain and neck blood vessels.
Routine observations will also be taken regularly to monitor your blood pressure, pulse, temperature, blood sugar levels, oxygen levels and breathing pattern.
To treat ischemic strokes, blood supply to the brain needs to be quickly restored. This is done by intravenous injection of tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) also known as ‘clot buster’. This potent drug needs to be given within 4.5 hours of beginning of stroke symptoms.
Hemorrhagic strokes are treated by controlling bleeding and pressure in the brain, which sometimes requires Neurosurgical consultation.
After the acute phase, the most important part of treatment is to help patient rehabilitate for best possible recovery.
Dr. Sami works with his patients to reduce their chances of a recurrent stroke by recommending control of blood pressure, heart healthy diet, smoking cessation, increased physical activity, weight loss and encouraging patients to take their medications as prescribed.
Contact Us Today:
More than seven million Americans are stroke survivors. If you or a loved one are concerned about your risk of stroke or have suffered a stroke, make an appointment today for an evaluation and screening with Dr. Sami.
Our main office is located at 6051 Garth Road, Suite 300, Baytown, TX 77521. Or you may contact us at 281-839-7949 to set up an appointment.