STROKE CAN BE PREVENTABLE
When the blood supply to portion of the brain is blocked, a cerebrovascular accident, or stroke, occurs. An estimated 20 percent of stroke victims die within three months; 50 to 60 percent are disabled. About half of those who have a stroke are partially paralyzed on one side of their bodies; between a quarter and a half are partially or completely dependent on others for daily living; a third become depressed; a fifth cannot walk.
Stroke rank third after heart disease and cancer, as a cause of death. After decades of steady decline, the number of strokes per year has begun to rise. The main reasons seem to be that more people, are living longer, advanced medical care is allowing more people to survive heart disease, and doctors are better able to diagnose and detect strokes. Yet 80 percent of strokes are preventable, and key risk factors can be modified through either lifestyle changes or drugs. The most important steps are treating hy0perention, not smoking, managing diabetes, lowering cholesterol, and taking aspirin.
Strokes continue to occur 40 percent more often in the Southeast(the so-called Stroke Belt) than in other regions of the United States.
What Causes a Stroke?
There are two types of stroke: ischemic stroke, which is the result of a blockage that disrupts blood flow to the brain, and hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when blood vessels rupture. One of the most common causes of ischemic stroke is the blockage of a brain artery by thrombus, or blood clot-a cerebral thrombosis. Clots generally form around deposits sticking out from the arterial wall. Sometimes a wandering blood clot (embolus), carried in the blood stream, becomes wedged in one of the cerebral arteries. This is called a cerebral embolism, and it can completely plug up a cerebral artery.
In hemorrhagic stroke, a diseased artery in the brain floods the surrounding tissue with blood. The cells nourished by the artery are deprived of blood and can’t function, and the blood from the artery forms a clot that may interfere with brain function. This is more likely to occur if the patient suffers from a combination of hypertension and atherosclerosis. Hemorrhage(bleeding) may also be caused by a head injury or by the bursting of an aneurysm, a blood-filled pouch that balloons out from a weak spot in the wall of an artery.
Brain tissue, like heart muscle, begins to die if deprived of oxygen, which mey them cause difficulty speaking and walking , and loss of memory. These effects may be slight or severe, temporary or permanent, depending on how widespread the damage is and whether other areas of the brain can take over the function of the damaged area. About 30 percent of stroke survivors develop dementia, a disorder that rovs a person of memory and other intellectual abilities.