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Strokes are a leading cause of death in the U.S., and a long term cause of disability in both children and adults. Strokes are medical emergencies, yet they are sometimes overlooked. When a blood vessel in your brain is blocked or bursts, brain cells can't get adequate nourishment and begin to die. Symptoms can include sudden numbness in the arms or legs, weakness, confusion, inability to speak or think of words, headache, and loss of consciousness. Sometimes people who have had strokes can speak but can't understand what they hear. These symptoms represent a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment at a hospital.
Blood vessel blockage in your brain or in the two large arteries that lead to your brain can cause sudden loss of brain function. Risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, increased cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, smoking, alcohol use, and a sedentary life style. A diet high in whole grains, vegetables and fruit is beneficial to decrease your risk factor for stroke.
Prompt evaluation in a hospital emergency room is essential to effectively treat stroke. The sooner a patient is treated for stroke, the more effective the treatment will be. A neurological exam will be performed and nervous system function will be assessed. A computerized scan of the brain may be done to measure blood flow in certain areas, or to see if a hemorrhage is present. If medical care is received within four hours after a stroke, a specific anti-clotting medicine may be administered to restore blood flow. Surgery and other medications may also be provided. Long term therapy may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.
Often, the warning signs of a stroke don't appear until it is too late to take appropriate action. This is why it is vitally important to schedule regular visits with your doctor at Physicians East, to receive screenings that can help identify risk factors for stroke, and determine the right course of action for your long-term health.