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Stroke & TIA Treatment at Tenet Health

What Causes a Stroke?

Collection CT scan of brain and multiple diseaseA stroke is an interruption of blood flow to the brain. Deprived of oxygen, brain cells in the affected part of the brain begin to die. A stroke causes both immediate effects and long-term damage to the brain.

Ischemic strokes, caused by blood clots, make up more than three-quarters of all strokes. Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by broken blood vessels, where blood wells up in the vessels and damages surrounding brain cells.

While no one can predict when a stroke will happen, there are known risk factors. Older age, gender (women are at higher risk) female sex and family history are a few factors that can’t be controlled or managed. Other risk factors are things that can change, or manage:

  • Lifestyle factors, including diets high in cholesterol and salt, excessive alcohol consumption, inactivity, overeating and smoking
  • Medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, previous strokes or transient ischemic attacks and sickle cell disease

What Are the Symptoms of Stroke?

When someone has a stroke, symptoms may include:

  • Acute headache
  • Balance problems, dizziness or falling
  • Confusion
  • Numbness or difficulty moving one side of the body
  • Slurred speech
  • Vision problems

A quick stroke test is known as the F.A.S.T. test.

  • FACE: Does their face droop on one side?
  • ARM: Does one arm drift down when they hold their arms up?
  • SPEECH: Is their speech difficult to understand?
  • TIME: Call 911 quickly, because time is of essence in getting treatment.

How Does a TIA Differ from a Stroke?

A TIA, or transient ischemic attack, is like a brief stroke. For a few minutes, blood doesn’t reach part of the brain. The risk factors and symptoms of TIA resemble those of a stroke, and some people who have TIAs go on to have a full-blown stroke. Since it can’t be determined whether someone is having a TIA or a stroke if they show symptoms, it’s important to always call 911 at the moment symptoms appear.

Diagnosing a Stroke and TIA

A doctor may order tests to confirm a stroke or TIA. These tests may include:

  • Blood work
  • Carotid ultrasound
  • Cerebral angiography
  • CT
  • Electrocardiogram

Stroke Treatments at Tenet Health

If treated promptly, many strokes can be halted by a tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, a drug which dissolves clots. If that approach is not possible, a stroke specialist can perform a mechanical thrombectomy to thread a catheter into the blocked artery and remove the clot. For hemorrhagic stroke, doctors will attempt to control the bleeding and reinforce the damaged vessel.

Long-term treatment for stroke may include anticoagulant medicine to limit future clots, treatment for conditions — such as high blood pressure — that led to the stroke and rehabilitation to help patients regain capabilities lost during the stroke.

 

Sources:

cdc.gov/stroke/family_history.htm; cdc.gov/stroke/behavior.htm

cdc.gov/stroke/conditions.htm

cdc.gov/stroke/types_of_stroke.htm

cdc.gov/stroke/signs_symptoms.htm

ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Transient-Ischemic-Attack-Information-Page#:~:text=A%20transient%20ischemic%20attack%20(TIA,do%20not%20last%20as%20long

radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=stroke#:~:text=Because%20treatment%20depends%20on%20the,ultrasound%2C%20echocardiography%20or%20cerebral%20angiography

stroke.org/en/about-stroke/treatment/ischemic-stroke-treatment