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Understanding Stroke

  • Category: Stroke, Living Well
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Royce Dean Yount, M.D.

Be a stroke hero

In honor of American Stroke Awareness Month, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association wants everyone to be a stroke hero. Anyone can be a hero by controlling their blood pressure and other risk factors. Knowing your risk factors is the first step in stroke prevention. The good news is 80% of strokes can be prevented. Also, 3 out of 4 people who suffer first strokes have high blood pressure, which is #1 controllable risk factor.

The more risk factors you have, the more likely you are to have a stroke. Unfortunately, there are some risk factors you cannot control, such as hereditary and geographic location. But focusing on what you can change can drastically lower your risk of stroke.

Major risk factors you can change or treat

  • High blood pressure. This is public enemy #1 because it’s the leading cause of stroke. It’s important to get your blood pressure checked at least once every two years. If your blood pressure is too high, talk to your physician about managing it. You can lower your blood pressure by changing your lifestyle or by medication. In recent years, there has been a decline in death rates for stroke, and many believe it’s because of the effective treatment of blood pressure.
  • Smoking & Tobacco use. Studies show smoking is a major risk factor for stroke. The nicotine and carbon monoxide damages the cardiovascular system. Tobacco also damages the blood vessels. Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke.
  • Diabetes causes disease of the blood vessels in the brain. Diabetes is treatable. Talk to your physician about managing your diabetes.
  • High cholesterol. Too much cholesterol can cause build up in your arties, which results in a blood clot. If the artery leading to the brain is blocked, a stroke occurs. Most of our cholesterol comes from the food we eat. By making dietary and lifestyle changes, we can lower our risk of high cholesterol and stroke. There are also medications which can help.
  • Carotid or other artery disease. Plaque buildup in the artery walls can narrow a carotid artery and cause a blood clot. A stroke can occur when a carotid artery is blocked in your neck, which supplies most of the blood to your brain.
  • Sickle Cell Diseases or Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). This disease causes red blood cells to form an unusual shape. The “sickled” cell can stick to the blood vessel wall and block arteries. Also, TIAs are known as “mini strokes”, which most likely increases your chances of having another stroke. It is important to talk to your physician about treating TIAs.
  • Atrial fibrillation (AFib) or other heart disease. A-Fib is a quivering or irregular heartbeat, which leads to blood clots or stroke. There are treatment options available and you should discuss them with your physician.
  • Poor Diet and Physical Inactivity. Food high in fat and cholesterol can increase your cholesterol level. Also, being inactive can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Try to get at least 30 minutes of activity most days.

Save lives f.a.s.t.

A stroke hero knows the warning signs and can act F.A.S.T. By calling 911, you can save a life and help beat this killer. F.A.S.T is an easy way to remember the warning signs. When you see these signs, you will need to act fast.

  • F – Face Drooping: One side of the face is drooping or numb. Ask the person to smile.
  • A – Arm Weakness: One arm is weak or numb. Ask the person to lift both of their arms at the same time.
  • S – Speech Difficulty: Slurred speech or difficulty speaking. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.
  • T – Time to Call 911: If someone shows any of these symptoms, call 911 right away.

Touro earns advanced certification for primary stroke center

At the first sign of a stroke, call 911 and choose Touro’s stroke-certified Emergency Department. Touro was awarded advanced certification for Primary Stroke Centers by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. The Joint Commission completed a rigorous onsite review to evaluate our compliance with stroke-related standards and requirements.

We received the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval, which means our emergency department provides outstanding clinical care with short waiting times, convenience, and expert care. We are committed to providing high-quality care, and we are proud to be recognized for our excellence in stroke care.

Click here to learn more.

Royce Dean Yount was born and raised in New Orleans. He completed his fellowship from Louisiana State University in Interventional Cardiology and his residency in Internal Medicine from Louisiana State University. Dr. Yount specializes in Interventional Cardiology and Cardiovascular Diseases. He is also board-certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Diseases and Interventional Cardiology.