Cardiology - Stroke

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Much like with heart attack, being able to identify the symptoms of a stroke may help save a life. The quicker the response is to a stroke, the greater the chance of lowering the chances of disability or death.

What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off due to a blockage or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. This causes that part of the brain to become damaged or destroyed. A stroke is also sometimes referred to as a “brain attack.” Individuals who survive one stroke are at a very high risk to suffer another stroke within five years.

Here are the major symptoms of a stroke –

  1. Trouble with walking and/or dizziness
  2. Difficulty speaking and understanding
  3. Paralysis or numbness on one side of the body or face
  4. Headache
  5. Trouble with seeing out of one eye, or both eyes

What to do if someone is experiencing a stroke –
The most immediate response to make if someone is having a stroke is to call 9-1-1. Don’t hesitate. The quicker a person receives treatment, the better the chances of survival.

What is a “TIA”?
A transient ischemic attack, or TIA, is called a “warning stroke” or “mini-stroke.” While it results in no lasting damage, it should be taken very seriously. Recognizing and treating a TIA immediately can reduce the risk of a more major, damaging stroke.
What factors may increase the risk of stroke?
There are a few factors that will increase the chances of having a stroke. They are very similar to the risks for heart attack. Some behaviors or factors that increase the chance of stroke include:

  • Family or personal history of stroke
  • Being age 55 or higher (especially among men, risks increase at age 65 and higher)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking, or exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Diabetes
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Use of illicit drugs (i.e., methamphetamines, cocaine)
  • Heart disease
  • Physical inactivity

Individuals who have had a stroke are a high risk to have another. At least one in every eight stroke survivors has another stroke within the next five years. This is why it is very important to remember to treat the factors that are increasing your risk, whether it’s heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, or anything else.

How to help prevent a stroke –
Heart attack and stroke are similar in that not only are their risk factors about the same, so are the ways to help prevent them. Living a healthy lifestyle is the easiest way to reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack, and many other health issues.

Simple ways to live a healthy lifestyle include not smoking, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a diet rich in fruits/vegetables and low in saturated fats, drinking alcohol in moderation and not using illicit drugs.

There are medications that reduce the risk of stroke, as well. These may be prescribed a doctor to individuals who have had a “TIA.” These medications include anti-platelet drugs and anticoagulants.


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900 Hyde St
San Francisco, CA 94109
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