A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. It can be thought of as a “brain attack.” When blood flow is interrupted for more than a few seconds, the lack of oxygen and blood delivered to those brain cells can cause cell death and permanent brain damage to that area. Strokes can be ischemic or hemorrhagic.
Ischemic stroke: Blood vessels are blocked by a clot. The clot can form in an already narrow blood vessel or travel from another part of the body into the brain.
Hemorrhagic stroke: A weak blood vessel bursts in the brain.
Risk factors of stroke: Look at your lifestyle and see if you are at risk.
- High blood pressure (number one risk factor)
- Atrial fibrillation (heart arrhythmia)
- Family history
- High cholesterol
- Advanced age
- African American heritage
- Heart disease
- Poor circulation due to narrow arteries
- Heavy drinking
- Excessive sodium
- Illegal drug use
- Use of birth control pills (especially after age 35)
Prevention: Follow these guidelines for lowering your risk.
- Get your blood pressure under control.
- Lower your cholesterol.
- Seek treatment for atrial fibrillation.
- Eat 1.5 grams or less of sodium per day.
- Lose weight through diet and exercise.
- Do not drink in excess or smoke at all.
Symptoms: You may not always have symptoms with stroke. A stroke can occur suddenly without any warning signs. There are some symptoms you can be on the lookout for.
- Sudden and severe headache
- Headache that worsens when lying flat or wakes you from sleep
- Loss of consciousness
- Changes in the senses (taste, hearing, sight, texture)
- Dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Difficulty swallowing
- Confusion or memory loss
- Changes in mood
- Difficulty communicating
- Drooping arm or facial features on one side of the body
Treatment: If you suspect that you or someone around you may have experienced a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. Medical attention is required as soon as possible. Initial treatment includes medication to break up or dissolve the clot. In other cases, blood thinners may be used. Surgery is also a possibility in some cases. A CT scan will help your medical team determine which treatment will work for you, but it must be done as soon as possible.
You can learn more about preventing and treating stroke on Thursday, November 17, 2011. The event “Explaining Stroke,” presented by Barbara Dziubinski, ARNP, and sponsored by St. Petersburg General Hospital, will begin at 6pm. It is free of charge, but please call 1-888-741-5122 to make a reservation. The address is:
Lake Seminole Square
8333 Seminole Blvd
Seminole, FL 33772
Learn more by visiting our Stroke Center online. Our team is committed to keeping you healthy.