How to Prevent a Stroke: Here's What You Need to Know About Strokes & Mini-Strokes by Dr. Joshua Yamamoto
On July 4, 2019, 46-year-old former Patriot linebacker Tedy Bruschi suffered a second stroke – his first was in 2005, and that one was major. The recent one was a “TIA,” or transient ischemic attack, sometimes called a mini-stroke.
What Is a Stroke?
A stroke is a cerebro-vascular accident. That means it’s a problem with circulation leading to the brain, usually involving a blood clot that forms because of changes of the heart, the arteries or the heart’s rhythms. Symptoms of a stroke or TIA are quite variable. Whatever part of the brain is deprived of blood will not work properly. This can include loss of vision or speech, weakness of an arm or leg, loss of balance – just about anything can be related to decreased brain blood flow. So if that happens, even if only for a brief moment, you should get an evaluation of your circulation.
We spend a great deal of effort trying to prevent a second stroke, when in fact, we can prevent the first stroke. We often say heart and vascular disease is a "silent killer" because it doesn’t produce symptoms – until it’s too late. It is silent but it is not invisible. We can see it, but we have to look.
You don’t know your health on the inside until you look. Once you look and know the health of your circulation, you’ll be empowered with choices on how you can prevent a stroke. We think of strokes as random and tragic events. They are always tragic, but they are rarely random. You need to know the health of your heart, your arteries and you need to know your heart’s rhythm. Having this critical information makes strokes preventable.
Usually, evidence of a TIA is seen with an MRI scan of your brain. If you have symptoms of some part of your brain not working and the symptoms get better and a brain scan shows no evidence of permanent damage (that is, a stroke), then consider yourself lucky. You have had a TIA. You have dodged a bullet. You need to think very hard about how you, and your doctor, are going to prevent your stroke, because it is coming.
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