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Stroke: A Guide to the Symptoms, Risks, and Treatment Options

Stroke: A Guide to the Symptoms, Risks, and Treatment Options

With the recent and sudden death of actor Luke Perry at the age of 52, his tragic death is a reminder of how important it is for everyone to educate themselves on the symptoms, risks, and ways to prevent stroke. It is also an opportunity to learn about advancements in technologies that are available to help reduce the impact of strokes and save lives.

Many people think of strokes as a disease of the elderly, but in truth it can happen to anyone at any time, even very young people. A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. This deprives brain cells of oxygen, causing them to die. As brain cells die, the abilities controlled by that area of the brain—such as memory and muscle control—can be lost.

“Stroke is uncommon in people age 50 and below. But it can happen, and it can actually be a more devastating stroke than one that affects an elderly person. That’s because younger people don’t have much atrophy of the brain, and the brain tends to swell after a stroke.  If there is no room for the brain to swell (as in a young person), the brain will herniate downward on to the brainstem and spinal cord and cause death. For that reason, young people need to act even faster than older people when they have any symptoms of a stroke.”

– Dr. Daniel Korya Director of Neuroscience and Stroke care at Christ Hospital

How a person is affected by a stroke depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much of the brain is damaged. People who suffer a small stroke may have temporary, minor problems such as weakness in an arm or leg. Those who suffer larger strokes may have permanent problems such as paralysis on one side of the body, or loss of speech. Some people recover completely from strokes, but most survivors have some type of disability caused by the stroke.

According to the National Stroke Association there is good news—80% of strokes can be prevented.
Having information about the signs of stroke, your risk of stroke and stroke prevention is the best way to save your life or the life of someone else.

F: Face drooping.
Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile lopsided or uneven?

A: Arm weakness.
Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S: Speech difficulty.
Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.”

T: Time to call 9-1-1.
If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if they go away, call 9-1-1. Time is important.

Other signs of stroke can include sudden confusion, trouble seeing in one or both eyes, trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, and severe headache with no known cause.

“I would like to emphasize that trouble seeing in one or both eyes (sudden onset of blurry vision or visual changes) should definitely be taken seriously. When I was 47 years old, I suddenly lost my right peripheral vision. I thought it was a migraine headache or a problem with my eye. It turns out I actually had a stroke. I was stunned because I was young and healthy and didn’t have any risk factors for stroke. Even as a physician, the diagnosis can be tricky. But take it from me—take any visual changes or blurry vision seriously and get to a doctor right away. Luckily for me, I received great care at CarePoint Health Christ Hospital, and my vision came back. I am one of the fortunate ones who fully recovered!”

-Dr. Peter Woods, Chief Medical Officer at Christ Hospital

Your Risk of Stroke

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from a stroke is to understand the risk and how to control it. There are two types of risk factors for stroke:

How to protect yourself:
Talk to your doctor about managing your blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes, as well as increasing your physical activity and getting help with smoking cessation.

How to protect yourself:
You can learn more about your risk factors for stroke from the American Stroke Association.

Preventing Stroke

Preventing a stroke begins with choosing to live a healthy lifestyle, including eating right, being active, not smoking, and only consuming alcohol in moderation.

CarePoint Health’s Neuroscience Program Advancements

Artificial Intelligence

At CarePoint Health we have implemented Artificial Intelligence (AI) for faster stroke detection. When a patient is experiencing a stroke, the quicker you can detect and treat the stroke-causing clot, the more likely you can save a life or significantly reduce lasting damage. When every minute counts, our AI technology empowers us to treat strokes faster.

When any of the CarePoint Health Emergency Departments have a “code stroke” patient, in addition to sending the images to a radiologist, the images are also sent to the AI program.

The AI can instantly analyze the CAT scan images and alert the stroke team if there is a clot in the brain that is causing the stroke (Using medical terminology, the “clot” is called a Large Vessel Occlusion).

“We realize that time is of the essence in the detection and treatment of stroke.  That is why we employ the use of an advanced artificial intelligence system for detecting clots in brain blood vessels immediately after scanning the patient.  The AI informs all the members of the stroke team of the patient’s results and saves, on average, about 30 minutes of precious time.  That translates to about 60 million brain cells saved!”

– Dr. Daniel Korya, Neurologist at Christ Hospital

NeuroInterventional Thrombectomy

After the AI identifies the Large Vessel Occlusion, our Neurointerventional team can remove the clot to restore blood flow to the brain. How? Through a procedure called Neurointerventional Thrombectomy.

Neurointerventional Thrombectomy is a groundbreaking procedure that is starting to gain traction with healthcare systems in the country. However, it is most effective when implemented quickly. This is why the AI/Neurointerventional Thrombectomy combination is such a breakthrough for stroke detection and treatment. Christ Hospital is proud to be a leader in this area.

Consider signing up for CarePlus—a free concierge healthcare service. When you sign up for CarePlus our team will help you:

  • Find the right doctor
  • Get appointments quickly
  • Obtain referrals to specialists and the pre-authorizations you may need
To learn more, or to sign up for CarePlus concierge service, please contact our CarePlus team at 201-884-5329 or email us at concierge@carepointhealth.org.
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