Strokes facts you need to know!

Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke

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Stroke, the fifth leading cause of U.S. deaths, is a primary disability cause. During National Stroke Awareness Month, The Stroke Community Alliance Foundation (SCA) urges awareness of signs, risk factors, and the urgency of seeking immediate medical attention for suspected strokes.


The impact of a stroke is devastating, emphasizing the critical role of time in treatment. Early diagnosis and intervention significantly influence recovery chances. A stroke occurs with a blood supply interruption to the brain, a severe medical emergency requiring immediate 9-1-1 assistance. Strokes are neurological, not cardiovascular, injuries.Specialized brain injury care is crucial, involving neuro-specialists like Neuro Ophthalmologists, Neuro Physical Therapists, Neuro Psychologists, and Neurologists, rather than general practitioners.


A retinal artery occlusion (RAO), known as an eye stroke, occurs when a clot obstructs the main artery to the retina. In the most severe form, it's termed central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO), often resulting in total blindness in the affected eye. Eye strokes can result from either a complete blood vessel blockage feeding the optic nerve or more commonly, insufficient pressure or perfusion of the tissue, leading to altered blood flow relative to eye pressure.


More women die from strokes annually than breast cancer. Recognizing stroke signs, understanding risks, and swift medical response are pivotal in reducing its impact. Join SCA in spreading awareness for a stroke-free world.  Recognizing the early warning signs is crucial because more than 80 percent of strokes are preventable. While stroke symptoms can 

vary, they often manifest suddenly and may include:


Symptoms of stroke to be aware of include:


1. Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.

2. Confusion or difficulty with speech or understanding.

3. Vision problems in one or both eyes.

4. Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or coordination.

5. Severe headache.


The FAST test aids in recognizing and responding to stroke signs:


- F = Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face droop?

- A = Arms: Ask them to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

- S = Speech: Have them repeat a simple sentence. Does their speech sound slurred or strange?

- T = Time: If you notice any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.



  • Loss of all or part of your sight.
  • Not able to see out of the side of your eyes.
  • Blurry or distorted vision.
  • Blind spots.


Types of Strokes:


Stroke, a condition where blood supply to the brain is disrupted, has two primary categories:   ischemic and hemorrhagic.  **Ischemic Stroke:** Ischemic strokes result from the blockage of a  blood vessel supplying the brain with oxygen and nutrients. Brain damage 

can occur when the artery remains obstructed for an extended period. The majority of strokes are ischemic in nature.  


There are two primary subtypes: 


1. **Thrombotic Stroke:** This type arises from issues within an artery supplying blood to the brain, often in arteries clogged with fatty deposits called  plaques. These plaques     partially obstruct the artery and can rupture, leading to blood clot formation (thrombus). This blood clot can further block the artery, reducing or stopping blood flow to the corresponding brain area. Blood clotting disorders can also contribute to clot formation within arteries in some individuals.


2. **Embolic Stroke:** Embolic strokes occur when a blood clot or other particle dislodges from another part of the body, frequently the heart or a major neck artery, and travels through the bloodstream to the brain. Here, it  becomes lodged in a smaller blood vessel. This clot or particle termed an "embolus," obstructs blood flow to that brain region, limiting the supply of oxygen and nutrients. One common cause of embolic strokes is the irregular heart rhythm, known as "atrial fibrillation." Emboli can also originate in the aorta, neck, and head arteries and travel further into the brain arteries.


**Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA):** TIAs are brief episodes where an individual experiences stroke-like symptoms (e.g., weakness, speech difficulties) lasting a short duration, without any stroke signs evident on brain imaging (e.g., MRI or CT). TIA symptoms typically persist for minutes to hours and can recur. Fortunately, people usually recover fully from TIA symptoms. These episodes warn of a high stroke risk, and prompt treatment can reduce or eliminate this risk. Seeking immediate medical assistance is crucial if you suspect a TIA or stroke.


                                                                                **Hemorrhagic Stroke:** Hemorrhagic strokes occur when blood vessels in the brain rupture or                                                                                          leak, leading to bleeding within or around the brain. "Hemorrhage" refers to bleeding. This can                                                                                          increase pressure inside the head, which may damage the brain. Additionally, blood can irritate                                                                                          brain tissue, causing swelling. Hemorrhagic strokes have two primary subtypes:


                                                                                 1. **Intracerebral Hemorrhage (ICH):** ICH involves bleeding within the brain, causing damage as                                                                                         blood accumulates and exerts  pressure on surrounding tissue. Common ICH causes include high                                                                                       blood pressure, injury, bleeding disorders, and abnormalities in blood vessels, such a aneurysms

                                                                                      (weakened vessel linings).




2. **Subarachnoid Hemorrhage:** Subarachnoid hemorrhages occur when a blood vessel on the brain's surface ruptures, leading to blood accumulation and pressure within the "subarachnoid" space between two brain-covering tissue layers. An early symptom is 

often a severe headache, described as a "thunderclap headache," considered the most intense headache experienced by patients.


In summary, strokes encompass ischemic and hemorrhagic types, each with distinct subtypes, and TIAs serve as warning signs of potential stroke risk. Recognizing the symptoms and seeking immediate medical attention is critical for stroke management and prevention. Financial Support- Stroke patients have questions: Is my health insurance coverage sufficient for stroke-related expenses? Additionally, explore the Patient's Bill of Rights, which includes details on the Affordable Care Act. It's essential to note that not all medications or medical services may be fully covered by your health insurance. 


Occasionally, your insurer may deny coverage or provide only partial reimbursement. We acknowledge that a stroke can profoundly 

alter your life in an instant. Call to get more details 615-926-1941.  Equipment & Supplies - We partner with organizations to secure essential equipment and supplies, often not covered by insurance, for stroke patients. These resources are provided to patients at no cost, regardless of their insurance status.  





Various factors can increase stroke risk:


- Managing conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and atrial fibrillation reduces the risk.

  • - Smoking, obesity, and lack of regular exercise also elevate the risk, but modifying these behaviors can mitigate it.

Other risk factors cannot be modified, including increased age or a family history of stroke at a young age.


Thirty percent of strokes are potentially reversible when promptly attended to by a specialized stroke care team. It's crucial to dial 9-1-1 instead of personally transporting a stroke patient to the ER. In cases where a hospital lacks a dedicated stroke care team, delays can occur while transferring the patient to a facility equipped to deliver the required level of care.

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A nurse image speaking to a client

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