Employee & Community Health

What you need to know about strokes

6/10/2019 by Dr. Deena Nasr

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Stroke is the leading cause of disability and death. That's why it's important to prevent, identify and respond to strokes quickly to assure good outcomes. 

What is a stroke?

Strokes occur when there is a blockage of blood supply to the brain (ischemic stroke) or when there is bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). 

What are stroke risk factors?

Some stroke risk factors can't be controlled, such as age, gender, race and family history. Risk factors that can be controlled include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, alcohol consumption, sleep apnea, heart disease, obesity and having a sedentary lifestyle. 

Can strokes be prevented?

You can take steps to prevent stroke by making changes in your lifestyle, such as losing weight, exercising regularly, reducing your alcohol consumption and stopping smoking. You can also seek treatment for the conditions listed above — and stick to the medications and treatment prescribed by your care team. 

What are stroke symptoms?

Stroke symptoms happen quickly and 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"

F: Facial droop. Ask them to smile to see if their face droops on one side. 

A: Arm weakness. Ask them to lift their arms and see if one drifts down. 

S: Speech difficulty. Ask them to repeat a phrase and note any slurred speech or odd words. 

T: Time. Note the time of the first symptom. Every second counts, so call 911 immediately. 

How are strokes treated?

Some patients with ischemic strokes are eligible for clot-buster medication or minimally invasive procedures for clot removal. In hemorrhagic strokes, certain surgeries can repair bleeding blood vessels. Stroke recovery and rehabilitation takes a multidisciplinary team, which includes physicians and physical/speech/occupational therapists. 

Preventing stroke through lifestyle changes, medication and treatment, along with responding quickly to a possible stroke, can help insure good recovery outcomes. 

Dr. Deena Nasr is a neurologist in the cerebrovascular division of Neurology and Employee and Community Health's (ECH) Division of Community Neurology. She practices in the Baldwin Building, stroke clinic and stroke hospital practice in Rochester. Her interests include brain and spine vascular malformations, as well as ischemic stroke management and prevention.