Each year, May is recognized as National Stroke Awareness Month. Stroke is known to be the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, but did you know it is the third leading cause of death for women? According to the National Stroke Association, around 55,000 more women than men have a stroke each year. At Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare (TMH), we actively participate in Stroke Awareness Month activities to help educate our community about stroke prevention, signs and symptoms and the latest treatment options to not only help save the lives of your loved ones, but to potentially save your own.
What is a Stroke?
There are two main types of stroke.
- An ischemic stroke occurs when oxygen is cut off to brain tissue because of a clot or “clogged pipe.” This clot usually forms somewhere else in the body and travels to the brain. It continues to travel until it reaches a vessel small enough to block its passage. This can happen instantly when a larger clot is released or over time as plaque builds up on the lining of a vessel making that vessel narrower. Ischemic strokes account for around 87 percent of all strokes.
- A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a vessel in the brain bursts, much like a “leaky pipe.” During a hemorrhagic stroke, blood spills into or around the brain and creates swelling and pressure. Hemorrhagic strokes account for 13 percent of all strokes, but are responsible for 40 percent of all stroke deaths.
Stroke Signs & Symptoms
For each minute a stroke goes untreated, a person loses around 1.9 million neurons. Being able to recognize stroke symptoms quickly is crucial. For any sign of stroke, BE FAST and call 9-1-1 immediately. A stroke is a medical emergency and every minute counts. Be sure to note the time of the first symptom, as this is important and can affect treatment decisions.
In 2016 TMH became the area’s only Comprehensive Stroke Center, licensed by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. This designation highlights the superior level of care available to patients and serves as a beacon to other facilities in the area for stroke expertise.
Over the last six years, research has continued to show that endovascular neurosurgery is highly effective for stroke patients who meet the criteria, spurring the American Stroke Association to more aggressively recommend these treatments.
TMH has kept pace with the exponential growth in stroke treatments and has now become known as an advanced stroke treatment center. Here, our neuroendovascular surgeons use catheters to perform minimally invasive procedures in the brain through blood vessels in the groin, eliminating the need to open the skull.
Endovascular procedures can vary from finding a blood clot causing a stroke and removing it, to placing coils in the brain to repair a ruptured aneurysm and stop bleeding. These cutting-edge interventions – including Mechanical Thrombectomy – provide rapid treatment to minimize the long-term effects of stroke and can even prevent death.
Stroke Risk Factors
While there are stroke risk factors outside of our control, such as gender, genetics, race and age, 80 percent of strokes are preventable. Risk factors that can be changed or treated are
- High Blood Pressure
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High Cholesterol
- Physical Inactivity or Obesity
- Carotid or Other Artery Disease
- Atrial Fibrillation (Afib)
- Excessive Alcohol Intake
- Certain Blood Disorders, Such as Sickle Cell
- Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA)