A stroke is caused by a reduction or interruption of the blood supply to a part of the brain. The brain tissue is deprived of nutrients and oxygen, and brain cells start dying within minutes. A stroke may be caused by a blocked artery or the leaking or bursting of a blood vessel.
An ischemic stroke is more common and is caused by a blocked artery. Ischemic strokes are further divided into thrombotic strokes, which are caused by a blood clot that develops in the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by a blood clot or plaque debris that develops in another part of the body and travels to the brain via the bloodstream. Hemorrhagic strokes are further divided into intracerebral hemorrhage and subarachnoid hemorrhage. An intracerebral hemorrhage is caused by a blood vessel leaking or bursting. A subarachnoid hemorrhage is caused by bleeding in the space between the brain and membranes that cover the brain. If you experience a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also called a mini-stroke, you experience a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain.
A neurologist is a medical doctor who has taken special training in the diagnosis and treatment of nervous system disorders that affect the brain, spinal cord and nerves. A neurologist may work in a clinical setting or offer advanced care in a hospital such as a stroke assessment, acute hospital care, rehabilitation and outpatient visits.
It’s important to watch for stroke symptoms, as a stroke is a medical emergency that can lead to brain damage or death. Stroke symptoms include:
If you suffer a stroke, a neurologist may order tests including a physical exam, blood tests, CT scan, MRI, angiogram and echocardiogram. Stroke treatment will depend on what type of stroke you’ve had.
After discharge from the hospital or a rehabilitation facility, a neurologist is often involved to help with ongoing stroke prevention matters. Following your stay in the hospital, you’ll probably participate in a stroke rehabilitation program to help you recover movement, sensation, speech, language, balance and/or vision. The recovery from a stroke is often a prolonged process, over many weeks or months.
Talk to your cardiologist if you’d like more information on stroke.
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Adhering to your medications, prescribed exercises or lifestyle changes (such as dietary changes, smoking cessation, reduced alcohol consumption, etc.) is essential to improving health outcomes successfully. Compliance with any prescribed treatment is the number one thing you can do to ensure positive changes and optimal treatment outcomes.