What is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when an artery carrying blood to the brain either ruptures (called a hemorrhagic stroke) or becomes clogged by a blood clot (an ischemic stroke). Wherever the rupture or clot occurred in the brain, the affected brain cells suffer damage and can begin to die. The resulting brain damage can severely impair brain function and, by extension, the function of the area of the body controlled by that area of the brain.

What are the Risk Factors and Symptoms Associated with Stroke?

Risk factors for strokes, including controllable issues, such as hypertension, arrhythmia, lipid disorders, smoking, obesity, or inactivity, and issues outside of your control, such as age, family medical history, or congenital heart disease. Your best course of action includes understanding whether you have a high risk for suffering from a stroke and being aware of common signs of stroke so you can seek immediate treatment. Common symptoms include:

  • Loss of feeling or movement in the face or extremities, particularly when it only occurs on one side of the body
  • Changes in vision
  • Problems speaking or understanding what someone is saying to you
  • An intense headache that nonetheless feels different from any headache you’ve had before
  • Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), or a mini-stroke. You experience the symptoms of a full stroke but the symptoms wear off in about 20 minutes but can last up to 24 hours. TIA usually signals that you are about to suffer from a major stroke.

If you find yourself or a loved one suffering from any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. You do not need to be 100% sure you are suffering from a stroke to seek emergency care. The sooner you seek diagnosis and treatment for a stroke, the less damage your brain will suffer and the less bodily impairment you will have to deal with.

How Will My Cardiovascular Specialist Treat Strokes?

Your course of treatment depends on which type of stroke you suffered. The physicians at Heart & Vascular Associates of Acadiana can treat ischemic strokes with relative ease by prescribing medication to help blood clots to dissipate. Strokes caused by congenital heart disease such as an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) are treated by an invasive procedure performed by your cardiovascular specialist that will correct the defect.  Hemorrhagic strokes, on the other hand, require more delicate treatment from a complex team of neurologists and neurosurgeons.  In the above mentioned cases,  once the emergency phase of a stroke has ended, you will need to immediately undergo rehabilitation to help recover any functions lost during the stroke. Furthermore, preventive steps, such as positive changes in your lifestyle can help reduce your risk of suffering further strokes.

Talk to Your Acadiana Cardiologists About Your Heart Health

To schedule an appointment with Heart & Vascular Associates of Acadiana, please contact our office at (377) 534-4356. Our four offices proudly serve patients in the Lafayette community as well as the entire Acadiana region.