What you need to know about strokes
5/22/2023 by Deena Nasr, D.O.
Because stroke is one of the leading causes of disability and death, it's important to prevent, identify and treat strokes quickly to ensure good outcomes.
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is blocked — known as an ischemic stroke — or bleeding occurs in the brain — known as a hemorrhagic stroke.
What are modifiable stroke risk factors?
Risk factors that can be controlled include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, alcohol consumption, sleep apnea, heart disease, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.
Can strokes be prevented?
You can take steps to prevent a stroke by changing your lifestyle — such as losing weight, exercising regularly and seeking treatment for the risk factors mentioned above.
What are stroke symptoms?
Stroke symptoms happen quickly, and they include difficulty speaking; vision loss; dizziness; difficulty walking; and weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg.
If you suspect someone is having a stroke, act FAST.
This acronym stands for:
- Facial droop: Ask them to smile and see if their face droops on one side.
- Arm weakness: Ask them to lift their arms and see if one drifts down.
- Speech difficulty: Ask them to repeat a phrase and note any slurred speech or odd words.
- Time: Note the time of the first symptom. Every second counts, so call 911 at once.
Watch this Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast featuring Dr. Robert Brown, Jr., chair of Mayo Clinic's Division of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases as he discusses knowing the warning signs of stroke:
How are strokes treated?
A stroke is a medical emergency. It's important to seek medical evaluation and treatment as soon as symptoms start to reduce brain damage and disability.
Some patients with ischemic strokes are eligible for time-sensitive treatments like clot-busting medication or minimally invasive procedures to remove the clot. In hemorrhagic strokes, surgery can repair the bleeding blood vessel.
A multidisciplinary team is needed to provide stroke care, recovery and rehabilitation. This team includes physicians; advanced practice providers and nurses; and physical, speech and occupational therapists.
Preventing stroke through lifestyle changes and promptly treating a stroke when it occurs can lower the chances of disability.
Deena Nasr, D.O., is a neurologist in the Division of Cerebrovascular Neurology. She practices in the stroke clinic, Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester, Saint Marys Campus, and telestroke practice based out of Rochester. Her interests include cerebrovascular malformations and ischemic stroke management and prevention.