Jumaa, MD, ProMedica Physicians Neurology
May is National
Stroke Awareness Month and a great time to educate and inform
the public about the number five cause of death and the leading
cause of disability in the United States.
What is a
A stroke is
brain damage due to leakage or disruption of the blood supply to
the brain. There are two types of strokes. Eighty-seven percent
of strokes are caused by a blockage in a blood vessel supplying
the brain, called an ischemic stroke. The other type of stroke
is a hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by a bleed.
What are some
medical conditions that can increase the risk of stroke?
pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes can cause narrowing or
weaken the vessels to a point that they may shut down,,
heightening the chances of having a stroke. Sleep apnea can
cause low oxygen levels and elevate the blood pressure or
disrupt the heart rate, which may lead to a stroke. Atrial
Fibrillation can be a risk for forming a blood clot in the
heart, which may travel up to the brain and cause a stroke.
What are some
behaviors that decrease the risk of stroke?
of stroke can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle,
Don’t Smoke - Smoking decreases oxygen
levels in the blood, and the nicotine may raise the heart rate,
blood pressure and make the blood more prone to clotting.
Limit Alchohol - Excessive alcohol use may
affect your heart which could increase the chances of
experiencing a stroke.
Maintain a Healthy Weight - Obesity and a
sedentary lifestyle increase the risk of stroke by elevating
many risk factors and increasing inflammation throughout the
What are the
warning signs of a stroke?
abbreviation, BE FAST, is often used to remember the warning
signs of stroke and when to immediately call 911.
Time to call 911
What is a tPA
and when can it be administered?
tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is often referred to as the
“clot buster medicine” that may be given to try and restore
blood flow to the brain in the setting of acute ischemic stroke.
This medicine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) for administration up to three hours from symptoms onset,
and in a select population, it is recommended for use in a
four-and-a-half-hour time frame from symptoms onset.
procedure can be done?
thrombectomy is a procedure for ischemic stroke during which a
small catheter is introduced into the blood vessels at the groin
or the wrist and threaded up to the site of the blockage in the
brain. The blockage is then removed, restoring blood supply to
the brain. This procedure is considered for patients having a
moderate or severe stroke due to a blockage in a large blood
vessel within 24 hours from symptoms onset.
people need to know in terms of minority health and stroke?
According to the
United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of
Minority Health, African American men are 70% more likely to die
from a stroke than non-Hispanic whites. African American women
are twice as likely to have a stroke as compared to non-Hispanic
are very concerning. It is very important for physicians and
other health care providers to be aware of the disparities in
stroke care and outcomes. Several large research projects are
looking at the potential causes and ways to fix this major
public health problem. Some of the strategies can include better
access to primary care for early treatment of risk factors and
stroke prevention, education, early recognition and early
is being done here locally on stroke?
There is local
involvement in multiple national clinical trials for
stroke. Some exciting trials include the utilization of a blood
clot-busting medication outside of the four-and-a-half-hour time
frame and the use of neuroprotective agents/strategies in
patients with strokes. Currently, local patients are being
recruited for a study utilizing stem cells for patients with
moderate to severe strokes.
On a national
level, There continues to be extensive research, and promising
results, for example on neuroprotective medications which can
limit brain injury if administered quickly after the onset of a
stroke. Another frontier of research is stroke recovery where
there may be a role for stem cells or magnetic stimulation.
Stroke research is exciting and holds great promise, but as the
old saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure.’
to BE FAST with any signs of stroke!