Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries coming into the brain and within its tissues. In the United States, it’s the fifth-leading cause of death, and a major cause of disability.
Arteries are the part of the circulatory system that carries oxygenated blood and other nutrients from the heart to the rest of the body, including the brain. If an artery becomes blocked (e.g., a clot, plaque) or ruptures, the brain area it feeds can’t get the oxygen it needs, and brain cells die — a stroke. Once damaged or destroyed, the cells can’t be repaired or replaced.
Memphis Neurology has two locations, in Southaven, Mississippi, and Germantown, Tennessee. Our expert team of neurologists specializes in treating patients with both acute and chronic stroke, helping them regain strength and use of their bodies. It’s critical that you be able to identify when someone is having a stroke, because time is of the essence; the sooner they can get medical treatment, the less damage they’re likely to suffer.
What are the types of strokes?
Strokes come in three main types:
1. Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
Sometimes called a ministroke, a TIA occurs when an artery becomes blocked for only a short time, usually about 1-5 minutes. While it presents with stroke symptoms, it doesn’t cause permanent brain damage. Nevertheless, it still requires emergency medical care, because it can be a warning sign of an impending major stroke.
2. Ischemic stroke
Ischemic strokes are the most common type, accounting for about 87% of all strokes. They occur when a blood clot fully blocks an artery and prevents blood from reaching the brain. Most clots develop due to atherosclerosis, a plaque of fat, cholesterol, protein, and calcium that sticks to the vessel’s inner wall, narrowing the conduit. Unlike with a TIA, the blood clot won’t disappear on its own; you need immediate medical treatment.
3. Hemorrhagic stroke
A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when an artery within the brain ruptures or otherwise leaks blood into the surrounding tissues, causing damage and cell death.
5 signs your loved one is having a stroke
The different stroke types present with similar symptoms because all affect blood flow in your brain. Only your doctor can tell which type you have, primarily based on information gleaned from different imaging tests.
The five signs of a stroke include:
- A sudden, severe headache
- Trouble walking or balancing
- Vision problems in one or both eyes
- Numbness or paralysis of the face, arm, or leg, usually on one side
- Difficulty talking and understanding others
The National Stroke Association recommends using the FAST technique to identify the stroke’s warning signs in your loved one:
Face: does one side of their face droop down?
Arms: can they raise only one arm fully?
Speech: are their words slurred, or are they having difficulty talking?
Time: if you see the symptoms, it’s time to call 911 or go to the ER ASAP.
Diagnosing and treating stroke
Most of the time, physicians in the ER diagnose and treat the immediate symptoms of a stroke. Once your loved one is in stable condition, our team at Memphis Neurology develops an individualized plan, holistically based, to help them with their overall recovery.
Your doctor starts with a complete physical and neurological exam that includes testing vision, eye movements, speech and language, strength, reflexes, and the sensory system. They may use a stethoscope to listen to the carotid artery in the neck for signs of atherosclerosis (plaque buildup), or an ophthalmoscope to look for cholesterol or platelet fragments (emboli) in the blood vessels of the retina at the back of the eye.
They may also order imaging tests such as CT and MRI scans or an arteriography, which views the arteries within the brain and helps them assess which areas are damaged. Once they have the data, they discuss your loved one’s specific condition and the best approach to treatment.
Treatment may include medications such as clot-busting drugs; therapy, including physical, occupational, and speech therapy; or a combination.
If you notice the signs of stroke in your loved one, get immediate medical attention. And when looking for rehabilitation, come into Memphis Neurology for a personalized, holistic, and effective approach. Give us a call at either location to schedule a consultation with one of our neurologists, or book online with us today.