MedWatch: Stroke Awareness
Having a stroke can be life altering.
But there are things you can do to identify one if you or a family member is having one.
Michelle: Dr. Rajah, thank you so much for being with us today. We’ll start with the basics. Can you just tell us what is a stroke?
Dr. Gary Rajah: Yes, a stroke is a type of brain attack. It’s similar to a heart attack in that the brain doesn’t get enough blood supply. That is called an ischemic stroke. The other type of stroke is what we call a hemorrhagic stroke, where the brain actually has a bleed within the brain substance the frontal lobe.
Dr. Rajah: During an ischemic stroke, the brain starves or hungers for oxygen and starts to pass away. Neurons die at roughly a rate of 2 million per minute. And neurons are the supporting cell that allow you to function.
Michelle: What signs do you or a family member look out for?
Dr. Rajah: The signs and symptoms of a stroke are best noticed on the BE FAST exam. B fast stands for balance, if a patient is experiencing dizziness or having issues walking. E is for eyes. If you have vision issues in one or both eyes, that can also be a sign of a stroke. F stands for face. So if you notice a family member’s face drooping or if they notice their own, this is another sign of a stroke. A stands for our arm weakness, leg weakness. S stands for speech issues, and slurring of words, as well as being unable to talk or understand speech are also signs of stroke. And the last is the T, which is the reminder to us all that this is a true emergency. If you suspect yourself or family members having a stroke, then you should get to the nearest emergency room and or dial 911.
Michelle: Explain how you treat a stroke.
Dr. Rajah: Stroke is treated in many different many ways. Ischemic stroke can be treated with clot busters and many people have heard of TPA, which is a type of drug that is given through a vein and then it goes and breaks up the clot in the brain. However, we know that TPA only works in roughly 10% of what we call large vessel strokes, the big strokes. And so, new innovative ways using minimally invasive techniques have been designed and utilized to help pull these clots out of the patient, and this is done through a minimally invasive procedure through the wrist or the leg using catheters and stents. This procedure is one of many new procedures that Munson Medical Center will be offering.
Michelle: Are strokes preventable? What are other things patients can do to reduce their risk?
Dr. Rajah: Up to 80% of strokes can be prevented. In fact, lifestyle modifications things like exercise, watching what we eat, having a balanced diet, watching our calorie intake, avoiding high cholesterol foods and monitoring our cholesterol, blood pressure control. These are all things that keep our arteries from hardening, keep plaque from building up and allow us to live stroke free lives.