A stroke occurs when the blood flow to any area of your brain is cut off. According to the cardiovascular doctors at National Stroke Association, approximately 800,000 strokes occur in the United States every year. It’s the fifth most common cause of death and is the leading contributor to adult disability in the country.
Strokes can be fatal, although not all are. Someone dies from a stroke about every four minutes. The outcome following a stroke depends on how long brain cells are deprived of oxygen and where in the brain the cutoff happened. Areas such as memory, sensation, and muscle control often are affected by a stroke. And while some people recover fully after a stroke, about two-thirds suffer some kind of debilitating consequence.
Know the Signs
A stroke constitutes a medical emergency. It’s imperative that you get cardiovascular doctor care as soon as possible. In addition to knowing what to watch for, you should be aware when someone begins showing symptoms of a stroke. Remember, the length of time the brain is deprived of oxygen plays a significant role in the type of treatment needed. The sooner you call 911 and get help, the better chance you have of getting treatment in time.
Initial signs to watch for in stroke victims include:
- Severe, sudden headache that often is accompanied by vomiting. When you have a bad headache with dizziness or an altered state, you may be suffering a stroke too.
- Difficulty walking. Having trouble keeping your balance, feeling dizzy and uncoordinated when you stand up or try to walk could signal the beginning signs of a stroke.
- Trouble with speaking and understanding speech is a common symptom of a stroke. You may become confused and slur your words.
- Vision may be interrupted in one or both of your eyes. You may see double, blurring images or nothing at all (because you’ve completely blacked out).
- Sudden, unexplained paralysis is another common symptom of a stroke in progress. Your face, leg or arm may go numb on one side of your body. When you try to raise both arms over your head and one keeps falling, you could be having a stroke. Droopiness on one side of a smile also indicates the onset of a stroke.
A quick test — called FAST — can help you figure out if someone is having a stroke:
- Face: When the person smiles, does the mouth droop on one side?
- Arms: Does one arm fall when raising both?
- Speech: Is speech blurred?
- Time: Start the countdown as you call 911.
Signs of a stroke in women are slightly different from common symptoms above and might include:
- Loss of consciousness or fainting
- Difficulty or shortness of breath
- Disorientation or Confusion
- Vomiting or Nausea
If you’re experiencing any signs above, see your cardiologist or a heart doctor in NYC.
Prevent Stroke First
While a stroke is sometimes unpredictable where it strikes, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of having a stroke. The National Stroke Association reports that as many as 80 percent of the strokes occurring in the U.S. are preventable. Most of the prevention techniques also lead to better overall health. Prevention also reduces the odds you’ll encounter another cardiovascular disease, such as:
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart attack
- Peripheral artery disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol or metabolic syndrome
Lifestyle changes make a big difference in preventing strokes in the first place. Per leading cardiovascular doctors in NYC changes you can make to reduce your risk of a stroke include:
- Losing weight
- Staying physically active for some period of time every day
- Avoiding heavy drinking or binge drinking
- Avoiding illegal stimulants such as methamphetamines and cocaine
Know the Risk Factors
At the same time, cardiologists identified multiple cardiovascular risk factors that lead to hypertension, diabetes and obesity and all risk factors that also can lead to a stroke.
- Smoking cigarettes or being exposed to second-hand smoke
- High blood pressure and/or high cholesterol
- Sleep apnea that leads to obstructive sleep patterns
- Abnormal heart rhythm, and specifically atrial fibrillation
If you’re over 50 and have any other of the risk factors, you should see a heart doctor or cardiologist NYC and get screened. Even if you’re under 50, if you carry a number of other risk factors, you need to see a heart specialist in NYC or cardiologist to get checked for early warning signs.
And then there are the risk factors over which you have little control. When you fall into one of these risk categories, you should have your heart monitored regularly to check for any abnormalities:
- Family history of heart failure or stroke
- Age, particularly after the age of 55
- Gender, as men tend to have more strokes than women
- Ethnicity; African Americans have the highest risk of stroke
In addition to lifestyle changes, NYC cardiologist or your heart doctor may recommend medications that can help you reduce your chance of a stroke, especially if you’ve already been diagnosed with:
- High cholesterol or metabolic syndrome
- Atrial fibrillation
- Carotid artery disease
- Peripheral artery disease
Finding Out for Sure
Tests that can help determine whether you’re at a high risk for a stroke can include:
- Carotid doppler, a non-invasive ultrasound that measures the amount of plaque built up in your carotid artery
- Electrocardiogram, which measures the rhythm of your heartbeats
- Heart monitor, a device that monitors your heart’s activity over an extended period of time
- Loop monitor, a monitor inserted under the skin that monitors your heart rhythm over many months to years
After a Stroke
Physical, cognitive and emotional changes can occur following a stroke. These changes require special cardiological care and consideration. Post-stroke conditions vary by individual, but may include:
- Numbness, weakness and stiffness
- Thinking, remembering and recognition
- Anger, fear and depression
Recovery following a stroke takes time, from weeks or months to years. While some people recover completely, others live with continued disabilities. A heart doctor Michael Ghalchi, offer an effective cardiology treatment following a stroke that consists of:
- A heart-healthy lifestyle that includes diet, exercise, weight loss, cessation of cigarette smoking and stress reduction techniques
- Medications to prevent another stroke, such as blood thinners if you had a stroke as a result of carotid artery disease or statins if your cholesterol levels are dangerously high
- Rehabilitation in its many forms — from physical and occupational to speech, bladder control, muscle and swallowing rehabilitation
- Emotional support in the form of talk therapy to reduce anxiety and to help you manage new feelings about judgments and behaviors that began only after the stroke
- Mental health rehab, such as one-on-one sessions with a professional, group therapy, anti-depression medications or all three
Whether you want to prevent a stroke, are showing signs of potential danger or if you already experienced the frightening condition, contact cardiologist and NYC heart doctor Michael Ghalchi of Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates to get the tests you need to put your mind at rest and ensure that you continue to be healthy for years to come.
Dr. Michael Ghalchi, Cardiologist (Cardiologist NYC, Midtown)
New York, NY10010
(Between Madison Ave & Park Ave)
☎ (212) 686-0066