A stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen to the brain bursts (hemorrhagic stroke) or is blocked by a clot (ischemic stroke), depriving the brain of oxygen. When this happens, the surrounding nerve cells begin to die, affecting the areas of the body that are controlled by those nerve cells. Lasting effects from a stroke can include impaired speech, weakened motor skills, vision changes, restricted physical abilities, or even paralysis.
Most strokes come on suddenly, and the most common symptoms include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, and/or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech
- Sudden trouble seeing, including double vision, blurred vision, or partial blindness, in one or both eyes
- Dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, or difficulty walking
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
If you experience any of these symptoms, even for a brief period, it's critical to seek emergency medical care. Every minute counts in preventing additional brain damage, and patients who seek care within 3-6 hours of symptom onset have a greater chance of recovery.
Working together with hospital physicians and neurologists, we use CT to assess the stroke and quickly inject a clot-busting drug called tPA. This drug can only be successful within three hours of the first onset of symptoms. If the three-hour window has closed, neurointerventional radiologists will perform a minimally invasive procedure to stop the stroke from persisting. For an ischemic stroke (clot), direct therapy called thrombolysis is performed by guiding a catheter from the groin to the source of the blood clot, where tPA is delivered directly to the clot. Thrombolysis can only be successful within six hours of the onset of stroke symptoms. Typically, this direct therapy can help severely affected stroke patients return to normal function with minimal to no side effects. To treat a hemorrhagic stroke, our physicians use a similar approach, guiding a catheter to the source of the ruptured vessel and embolize (close off) the blood vessel, rerouting the blood to healthier pathways. Oftentimes, tiny metal coils (stents) are implanted to prevent a recurrence.
You have questions. We have answers.
Below is a list of some of the questions we get asked most frequently from our patients. If you have additional questions, feel free to reach out to our ARA Cares Coordinator at (828) 436-5500.
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family History
- Untreated atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)