What is a stroke? A stroke is classified as a lack of blood/oxygen flow to the brain. One type of stroke is called an ischemic stroke, a blood clot that is caught in one of the arteries leading to the brain. According to the American Heart Association, 87% of strokes are ischemic in nature with an underlying
causation of artherosclerosis, a narrowing of the arteries by plaque accumulation. Approximately 630,000-700,000 Americans annually will become the victim of a stroke. The other type of stroke is hemorrhagic; it is caused by the rupture of a blood vessel in the brain (eg., aneurysm).
If the clot is small and the patient attended to quickly, a drug called TPA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) may be administered to dissolve the clot (thrombolysis). If the clot is too large, however, TPA may not be as effective. Now, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, (NEJM/Trial Intraarterial Treatment for Ischemic Stroke/Netherlands; Jan/2015), there are very promising developments on this front. A team of researchers have designed an innovative collapsed wire cage stent. The stent is placed on the end of a catheter that is threaded into the clot from the femoral artery (groin), then expanded to “catch” the clot, withdraw it and in its wake saving precious brain tissue.
Know the warning signs of a stroke; Indicators include:
Sudden numbness on one side of the body
Sudden inability to comprehend conversation
Sudden severe headache
Sudden difficulty speaking
Sudden failing vision
The key word is sudden. If you suspect someone you know exhibits symptoms of a stroke seek – emergency aid immediately – you have an approximate 3-4.5 hour window (American Heart Association, 2014) for the patient to receive TPA or other acute treatment – so time is of the essence. A simple quick “test” is to ask the patient to raise his/her arms to the side or to repeat a simple phrase….if they are suddenly unable or are laboring to perform the task, this may be indicative of a stroke or other neurological incident. Also, note the time of the suspected stroke, the hospital will ask for this very important information in the emergency room.
According to Dr. Walter J. Koroshetz, Acting Director of the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the road toward successful treatment of strokes has been long and arduous. Intravenous (IV) use of TPA was first tested in the 1980’s but unfortunately found less effective against larger clots. The wire cage stent has had a series of research hurdles to overcome but was finally cleared by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) in 2004; however, much further study was necessary to develop the expertise of physicians in arterial retrieval.
Some risk factors (WebMD/2014) for stroke are:
High Blood Pressure
Atrial Fibilliation (A-Fib); Heart palpitations, fainting, fatigue
Age (Over 55)
Ethnicity (African American most affected group)
Gender – (Men sustain a higher percentage)
However, there are lifestyle modifications you can do to help reduce your chances of a stroke:
Maintain a healthy diet – high in fiber and low in saturated fats
Keep a good BMI (body mass index)/weight
(see your doctor for appropriate ranges)
Maintain a healthy blood pressure (at or below 120/80)
Get Regular Annual Examinations with a full workup (lab blood testing, ekg)
Remember the best patient is an informed patient; ask your doctor questions you have about your health; know what medications are being prescribed and why, know their side effects. Most importantly, always keep an open line of communication with your doctor.
Be sure to watch Sharon’s Full Body and Fitness Workout on Comcast Channel’s 3, 5 and 22; Verizon Channels 24, 26 and 28 – Mondays at 10a.m. and Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. Also, Sharon’s Senior Fitness Exercise Video is now available! — call MATV at 781-321-6400 for details.
Remember to take Care of yourself and….