The Number 3 Killer: Stroke

The Who:

More than 150,000 Americans die of stroke each year, that’s one-third of all those who suffer a stroke. Another third will be left with a permanent, severe disability.

Men and women suffer strokes in nearly equal numbers but younger and older women have slightly more strokes than men of those ages, and middle-aged men have more strokes than middle-aged women.

Stroke Prevention

Stroke is by far the most frightening of illnesses. Unlike Alzheimer’s, where you would not recall any other way of being, if you suffer a stroke you would know the alteration in your brain and be aware of your diminished capabilities. You have a stroke and you either die or survive with a disability, perhaps lingering for years without being able to take care of yourself in the smallest way. It is the unpredictable outcome that is so frightening.

Your risk? One in five.

The What:

There are many different types of strokes. Many different results of damage. A spontaneous hemorrhage into the head is caused by either the rupture of small arteries deep within the brain or by the rupture an “aneurysm”, a saclike dilatation caused by weakness of a portion of an artery wall. These strokes occur without warning, usually causing the most damage, and carry the greatest risk of death. My mother died this way.

If you experience a hemorrhage caused by the rupture of small blood vessels, it is most often related to long-standing high blood pressure. Usually this occurs in people over 50. More rare and more dramatic than hypertensive hemorrhage is the rupture of aneurysms in the brain. Aneurysms are unpredictable, bringing death to more than half of their victims. These can occur at any age. My mother was under 50 years old.

If you suffer a stroke caused by this hypertensive hemorrhage you will complain of a sudden and severe headache or perhaps a feeling of something odd going on inside your head. You may lose consciousness, even if only briefly. Typically within minutes, one side of your face may sag, your speech will become slurred, an arm or leg, or both, may weaken, or you may have a convulsion. The build up of blood in your brain increases pressure inside your skull. That increased pressure can by itself cause damage or loss of function and lead to mental confusion or loss of consciousness.

A stroke happens when a part of your brain is deprived of the constant supply of blood it needs, either temporarily or permanently. Blood flow to the brain is blocked. The extent of the damage, put simply, depends on which blood vessel is damaged affecting which part of your brain.

It takes only about 15 minutes at normal body temperature for a nerve cell, starved for blood by a stroke in the brain, to die. It cannot grow back. As nerve cells die they release a flood of neurotransmitters and other chemicals that can overwhelm perfectly healthy nerve cells nearby and lead to their death.

The Why:

A diet rich in saturated fat and the wrong type of cholesterol increases your chance of having a stroke. Thrombotic stroke is specifically fat-narrowed arteries leading to the brain. This plaque is not all due to diet, but why increase your risk?

The risk factors for stroke are the same as for heart disease with the greatest of these being high blood pressure, which affects about one-third of our adult population.


and Stroke: Prevention and Treatment

Salah Gariballa
“A stroke is defined as rapidly developing clinical
signs of focal and, at times, global loss of cerebral function with symptoms
lasting more than 24…”

Okay, before we move on, let’s discuss some of the Causes…