Thursday, August 6, 2009

Signs of a Stroke

By Barb Hicks

Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain has been halted due to a clot or bleeding into the brain. Therefore, blood is unable to reach all destinations of the brain, resulting in a stroke. The person experiencing a stroke will begin to exhibit signs and symptoms. Some signs come and go usually within 5 minutes and leave no lasting effects. However, symptoms lasting longer may indicate a major stroke is occurring. Even if symptoms are short lived, it is imperative to get medical help immediately. If not treated as soon as possible, major brain damage and lifelong disabilities could result.

Signals of a stroke.

- Tingling sensation in the face or extremities - Paralysis or weakness on one side - Difficulty speaking - Inability to understand speech - Blindness - Dizziness - Pain - Nausea/vomiting - Sudden intense headache

If you or anyone around you is having these symptoms, call 911 and get emergency medical help right away.

Risk Factors for Stroke:

- Age: After age 55, the risks double every 10 years. - Family history and ethnicity - Gender: Women are less likely than men to suffer a stroke. - Previous stroke - Atrial Fibrillation - Fractures of the long bone resulting in a fat embolism

Reducing your risks:

Take all medications prescribed by your physician. Monitor blood pressure. Lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Quit Smoking. Eat a healthy diet. Get plenty of exercise.

Physicians use a CT, MRI or Angiogram to determine the location of a stroke, the amount of damage it caused as well as what type of stroke was experienced.

Treatment involves clot busters, such as tPA that must be given within hours of the onset of symptoms. Surgical intervention is an option for ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes.

After Stroke care:

Patients who have survived a stroke may require rehabilitation utilizing speech, occupational, and physical therapies. Recovery can take a few days to a year or more to regain lost functions.

Medications include:

Antiplatelet - Prevents the formation of clots by not allowing platelets to adhere together - Thrombolytics -This is a clot bluster that loosens or breaks a clot apart which is then carried away by phagocytic cells - Anticoagulants - These prevent the formation of clots especially in those patients with A-fib as they are extremely prone to clots due solely because of the continuous contractions of the atria in the heart.

If you have other chronic diseases present such as diabetes or hypertension, keeping these values in the normal range will help to prevent, or lessen the likelihood of a stroke event.

Regular exercise 3 days per week will help to reduce hypertension. High blood pressure is the major cause of stoke and is a factor in hemorrhagic strokes.

Fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains and nuts are all part of a healthy diet. Implementing this healthy way of eating is another great step in lowering your risk factors for stroke.

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