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Stroke

Introduction
Stroke or "brain attack" is the leading cause of disability in the United States. It is also the third leading cause of death. Although the majority of Americans affected are elderly, stroke is the third cause of death among middle-aged people.

The good news is that over 3.8 million people who have had strokes are alive today! But it is very important that you are aware of the warning signs and risk factors for stroke. There are ways to prevent or reduce your risk for stroke. Even making small changes toward a healthier lifestyle can reduce your risk. Knowing the warning signs and risk factors may help you prevent or recover from a stroke in the future.

What are Stroke and TIA?
A stroke happens when a blood vessel that feeds the brain becomes blocked or bursts. When this happens, part of the brain does not get the oxygen and nutrients it needs and that area becomes damaged. The damaged area cannot work, and neither can the part of the body it controls. Some vessel problems that are major causes of strokes are shown below.

TIAs, or "transient ischemic attacks", are warning signs that can happen before a major stroke. They occur when a blood clot blocks a vessel for a short period of time. The signs and symptoms of TIA are similar to stroke, but usually last only a few minutes or hours, then go away. If you have any signs, call 911 right away!

How a Stroke Affects the Brain and the Body
The brain has two sides or hemispheres, left and right. Although these sides share responsibilities for some functions, each part of the brain has a special role in controlling the body. Therefore, symptoms and effects of a stroke, and resulting treatment will depend on several factors. These factors include which part of the brain has been damaged, how widespread the damage is, and how effectively the body can repair its blood supply to the brain, or how rapidly other areas of brain tissue can take over the work of the damaged brain cells.

Damage to a part or parts of the brain may result in lost skills or personality traits. Some parts of the brain that may be affected by a stroke are shown below.The front of the brain deals with reasoning and the ability to control emotions. Strokes here may cause changes in personality.

The back of the brain controls vision.

The brain stem takes care of basic body functions such as breathing, blood flow, swallowing, and consciousness.

The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body. It also handles language, reading, and writing.

The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. The right side also handles the ability to judge distance, size, and one's own abilities.

Right-Brain Stroke
Be on the lookout for the following symptoms of a Right-brain stroke. If you have any signs, call 911 right away!

   • Left side paralysis or weakness and loss of sensation.
   • Tendency to neglect or ignore the left side of the body or objects that are to the left of the center of one's visual field.
   • Visual loss or blurring on the left side of both eyes.
   • Memory loss and confusion related to performing activities. (Experiences action or gestures as "static.")
   • Loss of spatial-perceptual skills such as judging distance, size, position, rate of movement, form, and how parts relate to wholes.
   • Tendency to be impulsive and a poor judge of one's own abilities and safety.
   • Poor social skills, frequent mood changes, depression, and/or change in personality.
   • Problems with bowel and bladder control.
   • Change in level of awareness.

Left-Brain Stroke
Be on the lookout for the following symptoms of a Left-brain stroke. If you have any signs, call 911 right away!

   • Right side paralysis or weakness and loss of sensation.
   • Tendency to neglect or ignore the left side of the body or objects that are to the left of the center of one's visual field.
   • Visual loss or blurring on the right side of both eyes.
   • Memory loss and confusion related to performing activities. (Experiences action or gestures as "static.")
   • Problems with speech (loss or slurred), language, and swallowing (dysphagia). Asphasia - difficulty with speaking and/or understanding. Dysarthria - difficulty pronouncing words.
   • Tendency to be impulsive and a poor judge of one's own abilities and safety.
   • Poor social skills, frequent mood changes, depression, and/or change in personality.
   • Problems with bowel and bladder control.
   • Change in level of awareness.

 

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