Stroke Information & Resource Guide
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A stroke is a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. It is a leading cause of disability and the fourth leading cause of death among Americans. Until recently, if you were to experience a stroke, supportive care was all that was available. But now, stroke management has progressed to a point where a stroke can be stopped in its path.
There are treatments available that can prevent or limit disability caused by a stroke as well as saving many lives. The success of such treatments is dependent upon how much time has passed since the symptoms appeared. Therefore, the early recognition of a stroke by the patient or their family is of the utmost importance. This article will attempt to give you the information you need to recognize a stroke and respond accordingly.
What is a stroke?
There are blood vessels that are dedicated to providing each and every region of the brain with the nutrients and oxygen that it needs to function. Over the years, a plaque from cholesterol and other lipid substances can start to build up in the blood vessels causing them to narrow, and if that plaque ruptures producing damage to the vessel wall, the body tries to heal it. Clot-forming molecules will reach the site and clot off the vessel. Once the blood vessel is closed, there is no blood flow to the tissue beyond the blockage. Sometimes, the clot will dislodge, travel in the blood, and block a smaller vessel downstream. Without oxygen and nutrition, the tissue beyond the blockage will begin to die.
A stroke due to such an underlying mechanism is referred to as ischemic, and the severity of it will depend upon the location of the blood clot. This is the predominant form of stroke, at least 8 out of every 10 cases of stroke are ischemic strokes.
Another less frequent type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel ruptures and causes bleeding into or around the brain. This type of stroke is called a hemorrhagic stroke. Although not impossible to treat, this type of stroke tends to be more serious and difficult to handle.