Brain Health

What You Need to Know About Stroke

Anyone who has experienced a stroke, or witnessed a loved one experience it, can tell you how important it is to get help immediately. Strokes occur when blood flow to the brain is interrupted—and that means the longer it goes without treatment, the more serious the damage.

But while most people know how dangerous strokes can be, there’s still a lot to understand about stroke prevention, identification, and treatment. And since May is American Stroke Month, we at Goodman Campbell thought this was the perfect time to talk about them.

Because the truth is that most strokes are preventable—and the ones that do happen, if treated quickly, can often be survived.

Preventing Stroke
According to Dr. Andrew DeNardo, Interventional Neuroradiologist at Goodman Campbell up to 80% of strokes are preventable. To understand why, we first have to understand what a stroke actually is. In short, a stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is suddenly interrupted, either by a blockage to an artery or due to bleeding from a burst blood vessel.

In all cases, the cause of harm is the interruption of blood supply, which in turn starves brain cells of oxygen. Without oxygen, these cells quickly begin to die. That’s part of the reason it’s so important to identify and treat quickly. The longer the brain goes without oxygen, the greater the harm.

But one of the best ways to prevent stroke from happening in the first place is to maintain normal blood pressure. High blood pressure is a primary indicator of risk for stroke, and contributes to stress on blood vessels in the brain. It’s also not obvious—as many as one in six American adults have no idea that they suffer from high blood pressure until it’s too late.

To prevent stroke, test your blood pressure to ensure it’s in the normal range below 120/80. And if it isn’t, talk to your doctor and make a plan to get your blood pressure where it needs to be. It could save your life.

Identifying Stroke
After a stroke, time equals brain: The faster the response, the more brain function can be saved. But strokes aren’t always obvious when they happen. That’s why it helps to remember FAST. It’s a small acronym that can make a big difference. It stands for:

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech difficulty
  • Time to call 911 

When you recognize any of these symptoms, either in yourself or a loved one, it’s time to call for help right away. And in fact, as more people learn how to identify stroke, we’ve already seen it make an impact: Stroke has dropped from the fourth leading cause of death in the United States to the fifth. That change is thanks to early identification and treatment. 

Treatment of Stroke
We mentioned earlier that there are really two kinds of stroke—arterial blockage, known as an ischemic stroke, and a burst blood vessel, known as a hemorrhagic stroke. These two kinds of stroke each have unique treatments. 

Because of this, proper identification is key, and Goodman Campbell is increasingly called upon to help identify stroke in patients throughout the hospitals we work with, including the Indiana University Health Methodist and St. Vincent hospitals. By correctly identifying the cause, we can also help ensure patients receive the correct treatment.

In the case of a blockage, the most common cause, treatments are designed to break up or remove the blood clot. In the case of a ruptured blood vessel, treatment works to stop the bleeding. Goodman Campbell is fortunate to have world renowned practitioners that offer patients unique skills and expertise in the treatment of both ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.

And, of course, prevention remains the best way to lower the incidence of stroke. That’s why we’ve engaged in active community outreach programs and research projects, including a recent $100,000 grant for our stroke research initiative. We hope this proactive approach not only leads to better outcomes when a stroke does occur, but that it also helps more people avoid the risk factors for stroke in the first place.

Request an appointment online and we will guide you through the next steps.