White Paper: Stroke

A stroke occurs when brain cells die either from a blockage of an artery supplying the brain (referred to as an ischemic stroke) or when there is bleeding into the brain (a hemorrhagic stroke). About 80% of strokes are ischemic strokes (Hwang MY, Glass RM, and Molter J. Preventing a Stroke. JAMA 281, 1146, 1999). Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and the third leading cause of death in the United States. The most important step you can take to lower your risk of stroke is to control its risk factors.

Risk factors:

  1. Hypertension
  2. Diabetes
  3. Atherosclerosis
    narrowing of the artery supplying the brain (carotid artery) due to high cholesterol
  4. Heart disease
  5. Lifestyle factors
    smoking, alcohol, high fat diet, lack of exercise, a diet deficient in fruits and vegetables

If you experience any of the following symptoms it is imperative that you seek medical attention immediately!! For the right diagnosis and treatment make sure you are taken to an emergency room in a hospital that has a Magnetic Resonance Imager (MRI). It is the only means of determining whether you have an ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke.

(Hwang MY, Glass RM, and Molter J. Preventing a Stroke. JAMA 281, 1146, 1999)

  1. Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg especially on one side of the body.
  2. Sudden confusion or inability to speak.
  3. Sudden trouble seeing out of one or both eyes.
  4. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  5. Severe headache with no known cause.

For more information visit the Mayo Clinic website.