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Marco Island Sun Times

Spotlight on Health
By: Paula Camposano-Robinson
Date Submitted: August 11, 2008
Print Date: August 14, 2008

Editor’s note: This is a


series of articles about
women and stroke.)

Stroke diagnosis and risk factors- part two

Last week I outlined many of the symptoms that you should look for if you think
someone is having a stroke (especially women) and the two major types of stroke.

In review, the most common type, ischemia is caused by a blood clot or narrowing of a
blood vessel (artery) leading to the brain.

In the second major kind of stroke; hemorrhagic, a broken blood vessel causes bleeding
into the brain. This break in the vessel also stops oxygen and nutrients from reaching brain cells
and may spill over into the brain.

In either case you should never ignore the signs of a stroke. Call 911 even if the
symptoms do not last that long.

The effects of a stroke vary from person to person based on the location of the stroke, its
severity and type.

Because the brain is divided into three main areas, it depends on the region in which the
stroke occurred. The effects are very diverse based on the exact location and type of stroke.

Specific impairments, including movement, speech, vision, swallowing, language,


regulation of emotions, thinking and reasoning self- care ability sensory impairment and right
and or left sided weakness or paralysis. The list is extensive based on the location.

Diagnosis/Screening

The physician will diagnose a stroke based on your symptoms, medical history and
specialized tests such as a CT or CAT scan. This procedure uses a combination of x-rays and
computer technology that produces cross-sectional images, or slices.

CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays and are used to detect abnormalities and
also to identify the location or type of stroke. CT scans visualize both horizontal and vertical
cross sections of any body part, including bones muscles, fat and organs.

Spotlight on Health, Stroke- Part Two


MRI’s can also be a diagnostic tool. With a combination of large magnets,
radiofrequencies and a computer produce detailed images. These magnetic fields are able to
detect small changes in the brain tissue that helps to locate and diagnose a stroke.

Unlike the first two diagnostic tools, computed angiography is a nuclear brain scan in
which radioactive compounds are injected into a vein in the arm, and a dedicated machine
creates a map showing the compounds into various parts of the head.

The rationale for this test is to detect areas of decreased blood flow and or tissue damage.

Several other tests are available to evaluate the brains electrical activity and blood flows.
They are: electroencephalogram (EEG), Doppler sonography, which records sounds created by
blood flow as it passes through a partially blocked artery, and cerebral blood flow tests.

Risk Factors

Although studies have shown that women take 46 percent longer than men to get to the
emergency room after stroke symptoms begin, nearly 20 percent of women report that they do
not know any of the risk factors, consequently more women than men die from strokes according
to the National Stroke Association.

Many Risks factors for stroke can be changed, treated or medically managed while some
relate to hereditary or natural processes that cannot be changed such as: Age, race, diabetes,
history of prior stroke and or family history of stroke.

Greatest risks are:


• High blood pressure- keep BP controlled
• Diabetes. It is treatable but increases the risk for stroke
• Heart disease is known to be the major cause of death among stroke survivors
• Smoking
• High blood cholesterol and lipids
• Lack of physical activity and exercise
• Obesity
• Excessive alcohol use-more than two drinks per day is known to increase BP
And binge drinking has been known to lead to strokes
• Cardiac diseases especially abnormal heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation; one
of the most powerful yet treatable precursors of stroke

To reduce your risk for stroke see your physician to help you control those factors that are
treatable, because studies suggest that up to 80% of strokes are preventable.

Next week I will review some of the treatments and what you can expect, once
diagnosed.

Spotlight on Health, Stroke- Part Two


Spotlight on Health, Stroke- Part Two