Seton Family of Hospitals and St. David’s Healthcare System are both comprehensive stroke centers that treat stroke patients from diagnosis to treatment and follow-up care. Our neurointerventional surgeons are members of the Austin acute stroke team. Once a patient has been diagnosed with a stroke that may be treated by a neurointerventional approach, one of our neurointerventional surgeons will meet with the patient or patient’s family to discuss the options available.
In the United States, stroke is the third leading cause of death, after cardiovascular disease and cancer, disabling more adults than any other condition. Every year, about 700,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke and about 160,000 of them die as a result.
A stroke is a life-threatening event that occurs when part of the brain is not receiving enough oxygen. This may be caused by either a prolonged lack of oxygen-rich blood to the brain (cerebral ischemia) or bleeding into or around the brain (cerebral hemorrhage).
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts or becomes blocked. Once a stroke occurs, part of the brain does not receive enough blood and the brain cells die due to the lack of blood. The damage caused by a stroke can result in permanent brain damage or even death. However, damaged brain cells do not die immediately. They can stay alive in a compromised state for several hours, therefore with timely treatment, these cells may be saved.
For many stroke victims, prompt treatment and follow-up care may protect these brain cells and help them lead healthier, more productive lives. To minimize the damage of a stroke, victims must seek treatment immediately. It is vital that treatment be administered within six (6) hours from the onset of a stroke. It is a challenge for medical personnel to treat the patient as quickly as possible to avoid permanent tissue damage or death, while racing against the clock to re-establish blood flow to the brain.
Immediate treatment after the onset of a stroke can result in little visible damage, but a stroke left untreated for too long can result in neurological and tissue damage (such as paralysis or permanent loss of speech) or death.
The signs and symptoms of a stroke can vary greatly depending on the type of stroke that has occurred. An embolic clot is a type of Ischemic stroke. The symptoms of a stroke caused by an embolic clot can be severe and are sudden in onset.
The symptoms related to this type of stroke may include the following:
• Numbness or weakness that occurs on one side of the body
• Comprehension difficulty or trouble with speaking
• Dizziness or lack of coordination
• Blindness or hearing loss, occurring on one side of the body
• Nausea and/or vomiting
• Severe migraine-like headache.
The symptoms related to an intracranial hemorrhagic stroke appear suddenly and become worse as time passes.
• Nausea and/or vomiting
• Severe headache
Roughly 88% of all strokes are ischemic. An ischemic stroke can be either large or small. During an ischemic stroke the blood flow to the brain is blocked. This blockage prevents oxygen and nutrients from reaching brain cells. Within a few minutes, these cells begin to die.
One cause of an ischemic stroke can be atherosclerosis, a condition in which a fatty substance called plaque causes arteries in the brain and neck to become clogged and narrow. The plaque can restrict blood flow through the artery or cause a blood clot to block the flow completely.
The second cause of an ischemic stroke is an embolic clot. An embolic clot occurs when a blood clot or other small piece of material breaks loose from an artery wall or from the inside lining of the heart. These embolic clots can lodge in an artery in the brain. Irregular heart rhythms, known as atrial fibrillation, can cause embolic clots and increase the risk of stroke. Embolic strokes can be a complication of blood pooling in the upper chambers of the heart (atria) in people who have abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) such as atrial fibrillation. The risk of stroke from atrial fibrillation can be reduced by taking “blood thinners” such as anticoagulants or antiplatlets. Please see your doctor to find out the best course of action, never self medicate.
It is estimated that 12% of all strokes are hemorrhagic. There are two types of hemorrhagic stroke: intracerebral hemorrhage and subarachnoid hemorrhage.
During a intracerebral hemorrhage a blood vessel within the brain leaks or ruptures causing bleeding. When this happens, blood leaking into brain tissue from the hemorrhage damages brain cells. High blood pressure is a common cause of an intracerebral hemorrhage.
During a subarachnoid hemorrhage, blood leaks under the lining of the brain. Subarachnoid hemorrhages are often caused by a small bubble on an artery known as a cerebral aneurysm. Of the two forms of stroke, a hemorrhagic stroke poses the more immediate danger. However, ischemic stroke has a number of risk factors that can be controlled.
For many stroke victims, prompt treatment and follow-up care may protect these brain cells and help them lead healthier, more productive lives. To minimize the damage of a stroke, victims must seek treatment immediately by going to the emergency room as soon as possible. It is vital that treatment be administered within 15 hours from the onset of a stroke. It is a challenge for medical personnel to treat the patient as quickly as possible to avoid permanent tissue damage or death, while racing against the clock to re-establish blood flow to the brain.
Seton Family of Hospitals and St. David’s Healthcare System are both comprehensive stroke centers that treat stroke patients from diagnosis to treatment and follow-up care. All ARA neurointerventional surgeons are members of the Austin acute stroke team.
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