Strokes: What to Watch For and What to Know About Getting Care
CHI Health Neurologist, Dr. Vishal Jani talks about important information you need to know about strokes and stroke care.
How Do I Know if I’m Having a Stroke?
The Simple formula is called FAST. ‘F’ stands for droopy face and whenever you see an even face that could be a sign of a stroke. ‘A’ is for arm weakness, whenever someone has a weakness in one arm that may be a symptom of a stroke. ‘S’ Is slurred speech, when someone has speech formulation or comprehension difficulty that may be a sign of a stroke. Finally, ‘T’ means time to call 911.
What’s New in Stroke Care?
Thrombectomy is a game-changer in treating strokes. Just a few years back there was no technology that allowed us to treat stroke patients. Now we can treat them 80% of the time so they can go back home.
The treatment is very simple, we travel through an artery at the groin under extra guidance with advanced 3d imaging. We know exactly where we are going, just like GPS for the body. Once we find where the clot is we thread a small tiny wire, with a small plastic tube, called a catheter, which travels through the artery and eventually goes where the clot is sitting inside the brain artery.
Once we confirm the exact location, we’re able to travel through the clot. Once we cross the clot we deploy a stent; which actually is designed, in such a fashion, so it engulfs the clot. After three to five minutes we pull the stent out which actually has a wire attached with it and after that, the blood flow is restored.
Procedure like this are just 15 to 20 minutes procedures, if done in timely fashion. My advantage to this procedure is almost 60-70% of the time these patients return to the normal independent function.
What Kind of Tests Can Determine The Risk of a Stroke?
When a patient does not show any active symptoms of a stroke it can be difficult to tell if they are at risk. There are some tests which helps us understand who has a high chance of getting a stroke in the future.
Some are ultrasound of the neck, CAT scans, and certain blood tests. However, these test are not 100% so if you are having symptoms of a stroke make sure you get checked out.
What Do Strokes Do To The Brain?
As we age, our trees in our neck and brain start to form a plaque. Plaque is nothing more than a calcium inside the artery, like a road bump. When there are additional risk factors the road bump or plaque get bigger and has a tendency to create a clot which can travel further and eventually block the artery. Many times it is sudden and has no measured reason so this is one of the reasons a patient can get a stroke.
Are Strokes Preventable?
The most common risk factor for a stroke is high blood pressure. You’ll be surprised to learn that 80% of the time the stroke is preventable, in 50-60% of that time patients have high blood pressure.
There are additional risk factors like diabetes, which actually not just affect the brain, but also affects the entire body but it’s also one of the risk factors for stroke. High Cholesterol, extra weight, lack of physical exercise, and some genetic conditions on top of smoke and alcohol, which we all know affects your overall health and directly responsible for a stroke.
Non-modifiable risk factors are your gender, ethnicity, genes, and some environmental factors. Having some non-modifiable risk factors can alert you and your doctor that they need to pay more attention when your body is showing various signals.
Is it True, Patients with Strokes are Getting Younger?
We have seen a trend that stroke is no longer a disease of old patients. In practice I see 20-25%, of patient population, that are now young patients under 50 years old. It is extremely common to have certain genetic disease or conditions that put you at higher risk of having a stroke when you are in your 30’s or 40’s.
The Importance of Immediate Medical Care While Having a Stroke
It is extremely important to seek medical attention right away without any delay. Whether it is a minor or major symptom, time is of the essence. We have learned from experimentation and from studies that every second brain cells die if you delay medical treatment.
1.9 million brains cells will die in one minute and that is not a small number. Just to remind you all that the cells, which die of the delay, can never be revived.
Find out if you are at risk for a Stroke with our Stroke Health Risk Assessment.
Dr. Vishal Jani is a neurologist at the CHI Health Neurological Institute. He is actively involved in research as well published in peer-reviewed journals. His current area of research interest includes endovascular stroke and cerebral aneurysm treatment and strategic planning for optimizing delivery of state of the art care.