Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. And every 4 minutes, someone dies of a stroke. It is the fifth leading cause of death for Americans and costs the United States an estimated $34 billion each year.

What is a stroke?

There are two main categories of stroke:

  1. Ischemic strokes are caused by the blockage of an artery, or in some cases vein. According to the American Stroke Association, this type accounts for 87% of all strokes.
  2. Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by bleeding following the rupture of a blood vessel that supplies the brain.

In both cases, the blood supply to the brain is suddenly interrupted causing brain cells to die from a lack of oxygen.

What are the symptoms of a stroke?

The acronym F.A.S.T. is commonly used to educate people in recognizing and responding to the warning signs of stroke. FAST stands for:

Face Drooping: Does one side droop? Is there numbness limited to one side of the face? Ask the person to smile to look for lopsided or unevenness.
Arm Weakness: Raise both arms. Is one arm weak, number or drift downward?
Speech Difficulty: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Are they able to correctly repeat them? Is there speech slurred or difficult to understand?
Time to call 911: If any of the above symptoms are present, it is imperative to call 911 immediately. Be sure to state “I think this is a stroke.” Even if the symptoms appear to resolve or you are unsure in any way, don’t delay.

Additional symptoms of a stroke may include:

  • Difficulty understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache

Risk Factors

Did you know that 80% of all strokes are preventable? You can keep your risk of stroke low by attending checkups and seeking treatment for any of the following conditions or poor lifestyle habits that you may already have:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Lack of physical activity
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Carotid artery disease
  • Other heart diseases
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Obesity
  • Poor diet and nutrition
  • Smoking

Other risk factors that are not within your control include age, family history, race, gender and prior medical history of stroke, heart attack or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs).

Geographic location, socioeconomic status, alcohol and/or drug abuse and sleep habits may also be linked to a higher risk of stroke.

Treatment of stroke

Stokes are treatable, but survival rates are directly related to the timeliness at which you seek care.

For ischemic stroke, treatment options include clot-busting through the use of intravenous medication or a clot-removing procedure. Those who suffer a hemorrhagic stroke, the priority is to stop the bleeding as quickly as possible. This is often done by inserting a catheter through a major artery in the arm or leg to reach the affected brain tissue. A mechanical agent, such as a coil, is then inserted to stop the bleeding and prevent further rupture.

A physician will determine which treatment option is best for your individual condition by evaluating your symptoms and the amount of time that has passed since the stroke occurred.

Contact Regional Neurological Associates

If you have suffered a stroke, the physicians at Regional Neurological Associates can help guide you through the process of stroke recovery, including identifying risk factors to help reduce the risk of recurrence. To schedule an appointment, call (718) 515-4347.