Understanding Stroke

Understanding Stroke
Dr. Gary P. Jones

As the third leading cause of death and leading cause of adult disability in the U.S., stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts.  When this happens, the effected part of the brain cannot receive oxygen and begins to die.  75% of strokes are caused by blockage in the carotid arteries, which are the two blood vessels in the front of the neck that carry blood to the brain.  Factors that increase the risk of stroke include traits and lifestyle habits.  Clinical studies and statistics have identified these factors.

Risk factors that cannot be controlled include age (patients 55 and older), a history of stroke in the immediate family, race (African Americans have a much higher risk of death from stroke), gender (men are generally at greater risk than women) and pre-existing conditions like a previous stroke.

While not all contributing factors can be controlled, several risk factors that can be controlled include controlling high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol; cessation of smoking; managing diabetes; treatment of carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease and atrial fibrillation; diet and exercise.

In addition to staying on top of the contributing factors that can be controlled, it is also critically important to recognize the warning signs of a stroke.  These include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body;
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding;
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes;
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, severe headache with no known cause.

If you feel you are at risk for a stroke, a non-invasive, vascular screening of your carotid arteries via ultra sound can easily be performed.  At LA CVT, vascular screenings are convenient, affordable and provide you with information that will allow your physician to create a plan of treatment which will hopefully prevent you from having a stroke.  Call LA CVT at (318) 448-3292 and schedule your lifesaving vascular screening today!