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Act Fast! Strokes Treatable if Caught Early
Strokes are the leading cause of disability and the fourth leading cause of death in America. In many cases, however, they don't have to be disabling or deadly. Knowing the warning signs of a stroke and acting quickly may help you or your loved one escape the damaging effects of a "brain attack." Treatments are now available that can help prevent a stroke.
Blood flow problems
Strokes are caused by problems with the circulation of blood in the brain. Blood circulation to the brain can be affected by either a hemorrhage, when a blood vessel bursts (hemorrhagic stroke), or a blockage, when a clot blocks the flow of blood (ischemic stroke).
When 1 of these problems occurs, a person may experience 1 or more symptoms that happen suddenly. The symptoms may continue or they may disappear within minutes to hours. Warning signs to be aware of include:
Numbness or weakness in the face, arms, or legs, often on 1 side of the body
Episodes of dizziness
Loss of vision in 1 eye or double vision
Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
Severe, sudden headache
It is very important to call 911 immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. Medications can be given in a hospital that can reverse the stroke, but they must be given within the first 3 hours of the onset of symptoms. Every minute counts.
Once warning symptoms are recognized, doctors can begin appropriate treatment. Treatments for strokes are very specific and depend on the type, size, and location of the blockage or disruption of blood flow in the brain. They may include the use of powerful drugs to dissolve brain clots or reduce and prevent hemorrhaging, or emergency surgical intervention may be necessary to stop bleeding into the brain. Quick action and early treatment can make a profound difference for a person's health.
Although anyone can have a stroke, certain factors can place a person at higher risk. These factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, family history of stroke, irregular heartbeat (particularly atrial flutter or atrial fibrillation), and a narrowing of the arteries. People with 1 or more risk factors should receive a stroke screening test from their health care provider. The screening can include a review of medical history, a physical exam, an ultrasound exam of the neck to detect blood flow disturbances in the carotid arteries, and blood tests for blood sugar and cholesterol levels (lipid profile).
Stroke prevention is also important. You can help prevent a stroke by getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking. Keep chronic health condition,s such as diabetes or high blood pressure, under control by taking your medications and getting regular checkups.
Broward Health North's Stroke Center is recognized as a certified Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and a Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Agency for Healthcare Administration.
The Joint Commission is the nation's predominant standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. This designation offers the public a way to identify which hospitals offer the best possible outcomes for stroke patients.
At Broward Health North, assessment and treatment begin in the Emergency Department by a specially trained team called the Brain Attack Team (BAT). The BAT is available 24/7 and consists of Emergency Medical Services (EMS and paramedics), emergency medicine physicians, neurologists, neurosurgeons, interventional radiologists, radiologists and nursing staff. Ten nurses at Broward Health North have gone above and beyond to obtain the prestigious Certified Neurological Registered Nurse designation. They are fully prepared to help you and your loved one through this delicate time. Our designated Stroke Unit is equipped with state-of-the-art technology to ensure your loved one receives the best possible care.
If you require rehabilitation after your stroke, Broward Health North’s Inpatient and Outpatient Rehabilitation Unit is here to keep you on a path to recovery. Our rehabilitation unit is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and is the first hospital in Florida to attain Joint Commission Certification for Stroke Rehabilitation.
What is a stroke?
Stroke is a cerebro-vascular disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. Every 45 seconds, someone in America has a stroke. Every three minutes, someone dies of one. It is the third leading cause of death and a leading cause of severe, long-term disability.
Stroke Warning Signs
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, swallowing or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
- If you experience these symptoms, dial 911!
Some risk factors cannot be changed or controlled like age, family history and gender. However, reducing the following risk factors can prevent a stroke.
- High blood pressure
- Cigarette smoking
- High cholesterol
- Physical inactivity and obesity
- Heart disease
- Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs) or mini strokes
- Excessive alcohol and some illegal drugs