May is Stroke Awareness Month

May 23, 2017
Salter Healthcare Team

A stroke is when blood flow to a section of the brain is cut off, the brain cells are then deprived of oxygen and begin to start dying off. When these brain cells die off, the functions that part of the brain once performed can no longer be performed causing loss of muscle control, memory, or loss of speech. Every stroke is different so the symptoms and how a person is effected can be different person to person, depending on where the stroke is in the brain and how big of a stroke it was.

What Is a Stroke?

A stroke is when blood flow to a section of the brain is cut off, the brain cells are then deprived of oxygen and begin to start dying off. When these brain cells die off, the functions that part of the brain once performed can no longer be performed causing loss of muscle control, memory, or loss of speech. Every stroke is different so the symptoms and how a person is effected can be different person to person, depending on where the stroke is in the brain and how big of a stroke it was.

What are the Types of Strokes?

There are two types of strokes – Hemorrhagic and Ischemic.

ISCHEMIC STROKE

According to the National Stroke Association, Ischemic Strokes are the most common, making up 87% of strokes. They occur when a blood vessel carrying to the brain is blocked by a blood clot, which stops the blood vessel from delivering blood to the brain. An ischemic stroke can happen in two ways – embolic and thrombotic.

Embolic Stroke

An Embolic Stroke happens when a blood clot or plaque form in the body (typically in the heart) and travels to the brain, travels to a blood vessel, and blocks it from getting through to its destination. This type of stroke is typically seen in people with atrial fibrillation (Afib).

Thrombotic Stroke

A Thrombotic Stroke occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the arteries supplying blood to the brain. This type of stroke is typically seen in people with high cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis.

HEMORRHAGIC STROKE

Hemorrhagic strokes are seen less often than ischemic strokes (around 15%) but according to the National Stroke Association, they make up for around 40% of all stroke deaths. A Hemorrhagic Stroke happens when blood spills or leaks into the brain from either a brain aneurysm burst or weakened blood vessel leak. Just like an ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic strokes can happen in two ways – intracerebral and subarachnoid.

Intracerebral Hemorrhage

This type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and leaks blood into the surrounding brain tissue, causing the brain cells to die and the affected area of the brain no longer works correctly.

Subarachnoid Hemorrhage

A Subarachnoid Hemorrhage is when bleeding occurs in between the brain and the tissue covering the brain and is often caused by an aneurysm burst. These typically happen in patients with arteriovenous malformation (AVM), bleeding disorders, brain injury, and those taking blood thinners.

What is TIA?

TIA is short for transient ischemic attack. When this happens, blood flow to the brain stops for a short period of time with symptoms mimicking those of strokes and do not cause permanent damage, but are a sign that a stroke may happen in the future.

Signs & Symptoms

Knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke are crucial when it comes to ensuring medical help is received immediately and can make a difference when it comes to treatment and long term effects.

Stroke symptoms to look out for:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, and leg, especially on just one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding
  • Sudden issues with sight in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, coordination, or loss of balance
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Act FAST Acronym

The acronym FAST was developed to help remember and identify stroke symptoms. The faster one can recognize a stroke, the faster that person can get to a hospital and receive treatment with a better chance of recovery.

Face: Ask the person to smile – does one side droop?

Arms: Ask the person to lift both arms – does one drift downward?

Speech: Ask the person to repeat a short phrase – Is there speech slurred or sound strange?

Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Stroke Risk Factors

Many people believe that strokes cannot be prevented, but most of them can be. Although there are some uncontrollable risks such as age, gender, race and ethnicity, as well as family history, there are a large majority of lifestyle and medical risk factors that can go into lowering the chances of being affected by a stroke.

Our tips for reducing your risk for a stroke:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week
  • Stop smoking and the use of tobacco products
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Take control of your high blood pressure or high cholesterol by eating healthy, exercising, & speaking with your doctor about possible medication

If you or a loved one has been effected by a stroke, our rehabilitation services are focused on your specialized recovery path short and/or long term. To schedule an admissions tour, fill out our admissions inquiry form or contact Salter HealthCare at (781) 729-2200.