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What is a Stroke?

 
A stroke, sometimes called a "brain attack," occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted.

When a stroke occurs, brain cells in the immediate area begin to die because they stop getting the oxygen and nutrients they need to function. Stroke is the #5 cause of death and leading cause of disability in the U.S.

There are two major kinds of stroke:

  1. The first, called an ischemic (pronounced "is-skee-mick") stroke, is caused by a blood clot that blocks or plugs a blood vessel or artery in the brain. About 80 percent of all strokes are ischemic.
  2. The second, known as a hemorrhagic stroke, is caused by a blood vessel in the brain that breaks and bleeds into the brain. About 20 percent of strokes are hemorrhagic.

What is Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)?

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a temporary stroke that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is briefly interrupted. TIA symptoms, which usually occur suddenly, are similar to those of stroke but do not last as long. Most symptoms of a TIA disappear within an hour, although they may persist for up to 24 hours.

TIAs are often warning signs that a person is at risk for a more serious and debilitating stroke. About one-third of those who have a TIA will have an acute stroke sometime in the future.

  • ABCD2 is the latest tool to help doctors determine whether patients who have had a transient ischemic attack (TIA) should be admitted to the hospital. (A TIA is a “ministroke,” or “warning stroke,” that produces stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage.) Patients with a score higher than 4 are admitted to the hospital.

Symptom Score
Age older than 60 years 1 point
Systolic blood pressure = 140 mm Hg 1 point
Diastolic blood pressure = 90 mm Hg 1 point
Unilateral weakness 2 points
Speech impairment without weakness 1 point
TIA duration = 60 minutes 2 points
TIA duration 10 - 59 minutes 1 point
Diabetes 1 point

 

What are the symptoms of a stroke/TIA?

Stroke symptoms suddenly occur and usually affect one side of the body. Symptoms can include: numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body; confusion or difficulty in talking or understanding speech; trouble seeing in one or both eyes; and difficulty with walking, dizziness, or loss of balance and coordination.

What disabilities can result from a stroke?

The effects of a stroke range from mild to severe and can include paralysis and problems with thinking, speaking, swallowing, and emotions. Patients may also experience pain or numbness after a stroke.

Is there any treatment?

Because there is no way to tell whether symptoms are from a TIA or an acute stroke, patients should assume that all stroke-like symptoms signal an emergency and should not wait to see if they go away. CALL 911. A prompt evaluation of symptoms is necessary to identify the cause and determine appropriate treatment.

Depending on a patient’s medical history and the results of a medical examination, the doctor may recommend drug therapy (alteplase) or clot removal. The use of antiplatelet agents, particularly aspirin, is a standard treatment. People with atrial fibrillation (irregular beating of the heart) may be prescribed anticoagulants.

What are risk factors for stroke/TIA?

Many strokes can be prevented by treating underlying risk factors. The most important treatable factors linked to TIAs and stroke are high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, heart disease, carotid artery disease, diabetes, and heavy use of alcohol.

Medical help is available to reduce and eliminate these factors. Lifestyle changes such as eating a balanced diet, maintaining healthy weight, exercising, and enrolling in smoking and alcohol cessation programs can also reduce these factors.

 

 

PeaceHealth Stroke Center
3377 RiverBend Dr
Springfield, OR 97477
541-222-5144