Along with a heart attack, a stroke is one of the most feared medical emergencies, which is understandable considering the life-changing, and in some cases, life-ending effects of stroke. Henock Saint-Jacques, MD, FACC, is a highly qualified heart specialist at Harlem Cardiology on Madison Avenue in New York City who has many years of experience treating people who’ve had a stroke, saving lives and helping patients avoiding potential long-term debilitating effects. To learn more, call the East Harlem office or schedule an appointment online today.
A stroke is a serious medical emergency caused by an interruption of blood supply to your brain. If brain cells aren’t receiving oxygen and nutrients, they start to die within a few minutes, causing brain damage and possibly death.
A less serious form of stroke is a transient ischemic attack, or TIA, which results in a temporary blood flow problem that doesn’t cause permanent brain damage. A TIA still needs to be treated as a medical emergency.
If you have symptoms yourself or suspect someone else is having a stroke, call 911 immediately.
Symptoms of a stroke may include:
There is a helpful acronym to remember if you suspect someone’s having a stroke, called the FAST protocol:
The sooner treatment starts after a stroke, the better the prognosis, so time is of the essence.
The most common type of stroke is ischemic, caused by a blocked artery. However, in some cases, the cause is a hemorrhagic stroke that means you have bleeding in the brain. In both cases, speed is essential to preserve brain function.
Treatment for ischemic stroke focuses on restoring and increasing blood flow to the brain, which involves the intravenous injection of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) or alteplase to break up the blood clot. You may also need an emergency endovascular procedure such as intra-arterial thrombolysis (IAT) or removal of the clot using a stent retriever.
Dr. Saint-Jacques may also recommend further surgery to prevent another stroke, such as a carotid endarterectomy to remove plaque from affected arteries, or angioplasty and stents.
Treatment of hemorrhagic stroke focuses on preventing pressure buildup in the brain and controlling bleeding. Medications to lower your blood pressure and intracranial pressure and counteract the effect of blood thinning treatment helps. If the bleeding is minimal, it can drain away naturally, but if there’s a large amount of blood it may require surgical removal.
You may also require surgical blood vessel repair using:
To find out whether you’re at risk of a stroke, call Harlem Cardiology on Madison Avenue or book an appointment online today.