Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - GMC - 26

26

What causes a stroke?

Aparicio: Most of the time, a stroke

is caused by a blood clot or blockage,
which occurs when a blood vessel that's
going to the brain is shut off. Less common is when an artery ruptures, also
known as a brain bleed.

What are the main
symptoms of a stroke?

Aparicio: An aid to remember the main

symptoms of stroke is the mnemonic
"FAST." "F" refers to face droop, or
weakness on one side of the face. Next,
you can check for arm weakness, "A,"
by asking the person to raise both arms
and seeing if one drifts down or can't
be lifted at all. "S" is for speech: Any
change in the ability to speak or inability to understand speech can be a symptom. Finally, "T" is for time, meaning
you need to call 911 right away if you
see any of these symptoms.
Stroke victims can show other symptoms as well, including severe headache,
sudden loss of vision, double vision, incoordination, difficulty walking or sudden numbness
on one side of the body. Any of these should
raise a red flag, and those observing them
should call 911.

EVERY

40

SECONDS
someone in the
U.S. has a stroke,
and those who
receive treatment
immediately are
much more likely
to recover
Source: Centers
for Disease Control
and Prevention

OUR EXPERT

Why is timing so important?

Aparicio: In the case of a blood vessel being

Hugo J. Aparicio,
MD, MPH,
neurologist
and member of
the American
Neurological
Association

Aparicio: The golden window for stroke
treatment is the first three hours. But that
doesn't mean you should wait that long-it's
clear that every minute counts. There are
surgical treatments and medications that can
be given up to 18 to 24 hours from the onset
of symptoms, so regardless of when they
started, seeking immediate medical attention
is very important.
Otherwise, it's possible to have much worse
outcomes, such as permanent problems with
thinking and losing the ability to walk or talk.
You have less of a chance of recovering those
things if you don't get help right away.
And even when the stroke is caused by
rupture of an artery, or bleeding in the brain,

ILLUSTRATION BY MONICA HELLSTRÖM

closed off, the part of the brain it supplies
loses access to blood and oxygen. For every
minute that passes during the stroke, the average patient loses almost 2 million neurons.
To give you perspective on what that means,
for every hour that a stroke patient is not able
to get treatment, the brain loses the same
amount of neurons as it would during three to
four years of normal aging. Literally, a stroke
ages the brain very rapidly.

Can you explain the
"window" of treatment?

SUMMER 2020 VIM & VIGOR

FdVSU20_24-27_QA_Stroke.indd 26

2/18/20 9:40 AM

PHOTO BY STOCKSY

obesity and rising rates of diabetes, we're
seeing strokes happen in young people
at alarming rates."
What is a stroke exactly, and why
is it so dangerous? How can you tell
whether someone might be having a
stroke, and what should you do about it?
Aparicio explains.



Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - GMC

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