Meet Dr. Gregg Mojares, Medical Director of the emergency department at Pascack Valley Medical Center. Dr. Mojares explains how to identify the signs and symptoms of a stroke and how delaying care could cause tragic side effects.
Stroke is the term doctor’s use when a part of the brain is damaged because of a problem with blood flow. Strokes can happen when:
An artery going to the brain gets clogged or closes off, and part of the brain goes without blood for too long. An artery breaks open and starts bleeding into or around the brain.
The effects of a stroke depend on a lot of things, including:
Some people who have a stroke have no lasting effects. Others lose important brain functions. For example, some people become partly paralyzed or unable to speak. Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the world.
There is an easy way to remember the signs of a stroke. The symptoms usually come on suddenly. Just think of the word "FAST" (figure 1). Each letter in the word stands for one of the things you should watch for and what to do about it:
Other symptoms can also be signs of a stroke. These include trouble seeing in one or both eyes, trouble walking, and loss of balance or coordination.
The right treatment depends on what kind of stroke you are having. You need to get to the hospital very quickly to figure this out.
People whose strokes are caused by clogged arteries can:
People whose strokes are caused by bleeding can:
Many strokes can be prevented, though not all. You can greatly lower your chance of having a stroke by:
Taking your medicines exactly as directed. Medicines that are especially important in preventing strokes include:
Making lifestyle changes:
Another way to prevent strokes is to have surgery or a procedure to reopen clogged arteries in the neck. This type of treatment is appropriate for only a small group of people.
A TIA is like a stroke, but it does not damage the brain. TIAs happen when an artery in the brain gets clogged or closes off and then reopens on its own. This can happen if a blood clot forms and then moves away or dissolves. TIA stands for "transient ischemic attack."
Even though TIAs do not cause lasting symptoms, they are serious. If you have a TIA, you are at high risk of having a stroke. It's important that you see a doctor and take steps to prevent that from happening. Do not ignore the symptoms of a stroke even if they go away!