Welcome to the Patient Education Library of Texas Medical Institute
Stroke - CVA
A stroke or a “brain attack” is an emergency medical condition. It occurs when the blood supply to the brain is stopped or reduced for a period of time. Your brain controls the life sustaining functions of your body. It also controls the way you think, act, and feel. A lack of oxygen rich blood causes brain cells to become damaged or die. Without oxygen, the section of the brain containing the affected cells can temporarily or permanently lose function. It can also result in coma or death.
Emergency medical treatments may sustain life and prevent disability, if they are received in the first few hours following the onset of stroke symptoms. A stroke can result in temporary or permanent disability and impairments. Recovery from stroke can take a long time, usually over a year.
Rehabilitation therapists help people to regain skills and live as functionally independent as possible. Many people with stroke never fully recover, but with assistance and adjustments, they can lead full and happy lives.
In addition to rehabilitation after a stroke, your doctor will manage your health to help prevent another stroke. This may include monitoring and treating atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol. Your doctor may also monitor and treat you for depression. Depression is common for people that have experienced a stroke. Depression is a real medical condition that is treatable. Depression may cause you to feel sad, irritable, tired, and uninterested in activities that you used to find enjoyable. You may also experience appetite changes, sleeping problems, and have trouble remember things or concentrating. You should discuss any symptoms of depression with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to provide you with medications or a counseling referral to help you.
You should eliminate the risk factors for stroke that you can control. Have regular physical examinations to check for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and atherosclerosis. Learn what you can do to prevent these conditions. Ask your doctor to check your medications to see if any of them promote blood clotting or blood thinning. Women that take birth control pills should talk with their doctors about the risk of associated blood clots.
It is helpful to maintain a healthy weight and eat a balanced diet. It is also important to quit smoking and limit alcohol. You should not use illegal drugs.
Am I at Risk
Risk factors may increase your likelihood of developing a stroke. People with all of the risk factors may never develop a stroke; however, the chance of developing a stroke increases with the more risk factors you have. You should try to eliminate the risk factors that you can control to help prevent a stroke. You should tell your doctor about your risk factors and discuss your concerns.
Risk factors for stroke:
_____ Hypertension “high blood pressure” is the top risk factor for stroke.
_____ Smoking increases the risk of stroke. Smoking can contribute to coronary artery disease and blood clots.
_____ The risk of stroke increases with age. Most strokes occur after the age of 65.
_____ African Americans and Hispanics have the highest risk of stroke.
_____ High cholesterol can contribute to plaque build-up in arteries, coronary artery disease, and heart attacks that can lead to stroke.
_____ More men than women get stroke; however, women are more likely to die from a stroke.
_____ Your risk is greater if you have a family history of stroke or TIA.
_____ People that have had one stroke are at risk for another stroke.
_____ Diabetes can cause blood circulation problems that lead to stroke.
_____ Heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation, endocarditis, heart valve conditions, or cardiomyopathy increase the risk of stroke.
_____ Some medications can increase the risk of blood clots, including birth control pills for females.
_____ Women have an increased risk of stroke during pregnancy and the weeks immediately following pregnancy.
_____ A lack of physical activity can increase the risk of stroke.
_____ Street drugs, such as cocaine, and alcohol abuse contribute to stroke.
_____ Trauma or a head injury can cause bleeding in the brain.
_____ Some blood clotting disorders or bleeding disorders can increase the risk of stroke.
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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.
The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on February 16, 2022. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.