stroke occurs when some of the brainís tissue dies from lack of
blood and oxygen. The brain can be deprived of blood flow in several
ways, but the two major causes are:
blood clot that travels from another part of the circulatory
system and lodges in an artery serving the brain (when this
happens, the condition is known as an ischemic stroke)
of a brain blood vessel, which reduces blood flow and allows
blood to leak out into the brain (a hemorrhagic stroke)
stroke is a serious emergency and is the third most important cause
of death in people over 65 after heart disease and cancer. About
one-third to one-half of people suffering a hemorrhagic stroke will
die. People who have an ischemic stroke have a much better chance of
surviving and recuperating.
stroke usually occurs suddenly and rapidly but may develop over a
period of hours to days. The brain damage that ensues may result in
severe symptoms that often affect only one side of the body. These
of vision or hearing
in the face and arms
or loss of sensation in one or more limbs
with speech or word recognition
to control the emotions.
the worst cases, the patient may lapse into a coma or suffer brain
someone you know has any of these symptoms, call an ambulance. The
key to limiting the damage caused by stroke is to ensure treatment
is begun immediately.
they reach the hospital, some people having an ischemic stroke may
be given a thrombolytic drug, which helps to break up a blood clot.
People having hemorrhagic strokes are sometimes taken for surgery to
repair the cause of bleeding. New drugs designed to limit the damage
caused by stroke are being tested in some hospitals.
the stroke has ended, the patient will probably require a
rehabilitation program to help re-establish at least some of the
lost brain and body function. The person will also begin a medical
regimen designed to prevent another stroke. This will usually
to control blood pressure and lower the risk of blood clots
modifications to control atherosclerosis, which is a common
source of blood clots. Smoking cessation is especially important
people who have had a stroke undergo a surgical procedure called an
endarterectomy. In this operation, atherosclerotic deposits are
removed from the patientís neck artery to improve blood flow to
risk factors is a major element in stroke prevention. If you have
had a stroke, follow your doctorís recommendations carefully.