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Stroke Prevention: Real Questions, Real Answers From Dr. Novacek, Altru Neurologist

  • Category: Prevention
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Rebecca Novacek, MD
Stroke Prevention: Real Questions, Real Answers From Dr. Novacek, Altru Neurologist

Since I was a little girl, I always knew I wanted to be a doctor. I love science and people, and there’s no better career than medicine to combine the two. But it wasn’t until college that I discovered my passion for neurology. I find the nervous system to be fascinating and slightly mysterious, with research that’s always changing.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. It is the fourth leading cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability. A stroke strikes FAST, and you should too. Here are some real questions, real answers about stroke.

How are heart disease and stroke-related?

  • Heart disease deals with the blood supply that goes to the heart.
  • Stroke deals with the blood supply that goes to the brain.
  • So, both have to do with blood supply traveling to the main organs of the body.

What causes a stroke?

  • Clots can come from different areas. They can form in the heart or can form from other blood vessels going to the brain. Tiny arteries in the brain can also be blocked causing strokes. Besides blood clots, the blockage can be caused by inflammation of the blood vessels or atherosclerosis, a build-up of fatty substances along the artery.
  • A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a ruptured blood vessel.
  • Strokes in young people can occur from dissection (tear in an artery) from trauma.

How can stroke be prevented?

  • The biggest thing is to decrease the rate at which atherosclerosis forms. This includes exercising regularly, not smoking, eating and sleeping well, and managing weight and stress.
  • If you’re not getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night on a consistent basis, it’s a good idea to get tested for sleep apnea or other sleep disorders. Learn more>>
  • Take the time now to make the appropriate lifestyle changes and reduce your risk of stroke, so you don’t have to act FAST down the road. Some studies indicate that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.
  • Following closely with your primary care provider for management of blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes.

What are the signs of stroke?

  • The most known symptoms are numbness, weakness and difficulties speaking but, dizziness or spinning, vision loss, slurred speech, and coordination problems can all be signs.
  • With a stroke, patients experience sudden onset, with no prior history. Overage 50, suspicion becomes higher, though stroke can happen to anyone, anytime.
  • In younger people, illicit drugs could also affect blood vessels and cause a stroke.
  • There is a higher risk of stroke during pregnancy and right after delivery.

What’s most important to remember about stroke?

  • If you or a loved one experience stroke symptoms, get in for an evaluation immediately. Time is so important when it comes to blood flow to the brain. When lacking oxygen, neurons in the brain die with every second lost. The severity of a stroke can vary, but it’s important to be evaluated immediately.
  • Also: don’t take aspirin if you suspect a stroke. Some strokes can be a result of bleeding in the brain. Aspirin could make it worse. Instead, call 911 immediately.

Learn more about stroke causes, risk factors, and prevention.