Posted on May 08, 2020
May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Although it is preventable and treatable, stroke is a leading cause of death and serious disability nationwide and around the world.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds, or when the blood supply to the brain is blocked. The rupture or blockage prevents blood and oxygen from reaching the brain’s tissues, and without oxygen, the tissue and cells of the brain become damaged and begin to die within minutes. A stroke can cause lasting brain damage, long-term disability, or even death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 795,000 strokes occur annually. It is the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of serious disability for adults in the United States.
The brain controls many functions of the body, like breathing and digestion. It controls movements, stores memories, and is the source of thoughts, emotions, and language. Understanding the functions of the brain helps illustrate how stroke affects our bodies.
To work properly, the brain needs oxygen, and although it makes up only 2% of human body weight, it uses 20% of the oxygen that is breathed. The arteries deliver oxygen-rich blood to all parts of the brain. If something happens to stop the flow of blood to the brain, the brain cells begin to die within minutes because they aren’t receiving the oxygen they need to perform, causing a stroke.
There are two kinds of stroke, both of which cause damage to brain cells:
- An ischemic stroke occurs when blood clots or other particles block the blood vessels to the brain. Fatty deposits called plaque can also cause blockages by building up in the blood vessels.
- A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts in the brain. Blood builds up and damages surrounding brain tissue.
Symptoms of damage from a stroke are apparent in the parts of the body controlled by the brain cells that are affected by the blockage or leak.
Quick Treatment Is Critical for Stroke
A stroke is a serious medical condition that requires emergency care. Act F.A.S.T. Call 9-1-1 right away if you or someone you are with shows any signs of a stroke. Time lost is brain lost. Every minute counts.
If you or a family member has suffered a stroke, be sure to tell you physician. By knowing your family history, your doctor may be able to help you lower your risk factors and delay or prevent a stroke.
The doctors and staff at CCHC New Bern Internal Medicine Specialists focus on disorders of the brain, spinal cord, muscles and peripheral nerves, including the diagnosis and treatment of stroke. For more information or to schedule an appointment call (252) 633-5333.