We live in the “stroke belt” of the United States – a region that runs from Texas to South Carolina. This designation isn’t something for which we seek recognition, since it points to the prevalence of risk factors for strokes in our communities.
YEARS & MONTHS TO PREVENT A STROKE
“There are a large number of risk factors we can control,” says McLeod Vascular Surgeon Gabor Winkler, MD “People with diabetes can work to regulate the disease with diet and exercise. Quit smoking. Smoking is a risk factor you can easily control by quitting”
“High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of strokes,” says Dr. Gabor. “If high blood pressure is a problem, don’t wait to go to the doctor to have your blood pressure measured. Local drugstores sell inexpensive blood pressure monitors. Take your blood pressure at home regularly and keep a diary. Take it with you when you see your doctor or call your doctor if you see a spike in the pressure.”
These important healthy actions taken over a period of months and years can reduce your risk of stroke.
CRITICAL MINUTES TO SAVE YOUR BRAIN
“The initial treatment is very important, because a stroke blocks oxygen to the brain,” says
Dr. Winkler. “The first part of the treatment is to restore the blood flow. Often this is done in the Emergency Department, using a drug called TPA. The body actually produces some of this itself to help break up blood clots.
“So by quickly administering the TPA drug, we can lessen the stroke’s damage and improve chances of a patient’s recovery,” says Dr. Winkler. “Time is the key. In general, TPA should NOT be administered more than 3 hours after the stroke or it might have the opposite effect and damage the brain further.”
A COMMON CAUSE
“After the patient is stabilized, we seek the actual cause of the stroke,” says Dr. Gabor. “About a quarter of strokes are related to blockages in the artery leading to the brain – the carotid arteries that travel up each side of your neck. We can reduce this risk by either surgically removing the blockage or by placing a stent like a small pipe inside the artery to keep it open.”
To learn more about Strokes and their Treatment, you might find these articles useful: