What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when a blockage or bleeding of a blood vessel either interrupts or reduces the supply of blood to the brain. When this happens, the brain does not receive enough oxygen or nutrients, and brain cells start to die. This is a medical emergency. Although many strokes are treatable, some can lead to disability or death.
Possible underlying causes of stroke. If people are able, they can achieve minimizing the risk of stroke by making life style changes as listed below:
- Eating a healthful diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.
- Maintaining a moderate weight and avoiding overweight and obesity
- Exercising and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle
- Avoiding the use of tobacco products
- Minimizing the use of alcohol and only drinking at moderate levels
- Controlling hypertension
- Managing diabetes
- Maintaining acceptable cholesterol levels
- Abstaining from the use of illicit drugs
Secondary Stroke Prevention
In approximately 25% of the strokes each year, the cause of the stroke is unknown. In many of these cases, Atrial Fibrillation or AFB is indicated in patient. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat that increases the risk of stroke and heart disease. Signs include dizziness, weakness, and fatigue. Treatment involves medication and lifestyle changes, and sometimes procedures such as cardioversion, ablation, pacemakers, or surgery. (WEBMD) Cardiac diagnostics and monitoring could be helpful in minimizing the risk of a secondary stroke.
In other cases where the cause of the stroke is unknown, there is the possibility of a PFO. Patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a hole between the left and right atria (upper chambers) of the heart. This hole exists in everyone before birth, but most often closes shortly after being born. PFO is what the hole is called when it fails to close naturally after a baby is born. A foramen ovale allows blood to go around the lungs. It has been hypothesized that many cryptogenic strokes are caused by small emboli that travel from the legs to the right atrium; during straining (such as a Valsalva maneuver) these emboli can go across a PFO into the left atrium and then travel to the brain, producing a stroke.