Board-certified neurologist Dr. Andrew Lerman and his team at Gables Neurology in Miami, Florida, provide state-of-the-art inpatient services, as well as comprehensive outpatient care and rehab during your recovery from stroke.
Here they explain what occurs during the two most common types of strokes, their likely causes, and the immediate and long-term treatments that can help save your life and your future.
Understanding the effects of a stroke
Your brain requires a constant flow of blood to function normally, and typically claims about 20% of your body’s total blood volume to accomplish its many life-sustaining tasks. Without sufficient blood flow, brain cells can die within minutes.
Strokes occur when an artery carrying blood to your brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures. This can have a devastating effect on your ability to move, think, or speak. Damage sustained during a stroke can also affect basic functions such as heart rhythm, breathing, and blood flow to the rest of your body.
Types of strokes
The two most common types of strokes are:
About 87% of all strokes are ischemic strokes, which occur when blood flow to your brain is restricted or blocked.
Ischemic strokes are often related to fatty deposits (plaques) in your blood vessels that build up over time and cause your artery to narrow or produce clots that block the affected vessel.
Factors that increase your risk of ischemic stroke include:
- Heart disease
- Elevated cholesterol
- Excess weight
Note that ischemic strokes are more common in adults over 50, but can occur at any age.
A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a vessel in your brain leaks or ruptures and floods the surrounding area with blood. This type of stroke may be related to:
- Uncontrolled hypertension
- Aneurysm, weakened area or bulge in an artery that can rupture
- Head trauma related to a car accident, fall, or other injury
Anticoagulants (blood thinners) used to reduce your risk of blood clots also increase your risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
When you’re taking blood thinners, follow your provider’s instructions carefully regarding your fall risks and specific dosing for these medications.
Emergency care for strokes focuses on identifying the type of stroke you’re experiencing and then restoring normal blood flow to your brain as quickly as possible.
You can expect a physical exam, basic neurological assessment, blood tests, and diagnostic imaging studies such as a CT scan or MRI.
For an ischemic stroke, the gold standard of care is intravenous (IV) therapy with medication that dissolves the clot and helps improve or restore normal blood flow to your brain.
When given no later than four hours after onset of an ischemic stroke, these medications significantly improve your chances of surviving and help decrease speech difficulties, mobility issues, and other complications related to strokes.
Depending on the underlying cause, Dr. Lerman and your care team may recommend other therapies such as angioplasty and stenting or carotid endarterectomy to open arteries narrowed by plaque.
Emergency care for hemorrhagic strokes may include medication to lower pressure in your brain, reduce the effects of blood thinners, or prevent seizures. Surgery may be necessary as well to remove excess blood from your brain and repair the ruptured vessels.
Once your physical condition is stable, your care team turns their attention to helping you regain function and mobility following a stroke.
Dr. Lerman partners with the neurovascular team at Baptist Health to provide highly effective and individualized inpatient treatments for stroke recovery that may include speech, physical, occupational, and visual rehabilitation.
After you leave the hospital, Dr. Lerman designs outpatient strategies to address mood disorders, gait instability, cognitive changes, and other lingering effects of strokes. He may also recommend medication to help prevent a future stroke.
For effective stroke prevention and care, or information about any of the services we offer, schedule an evaluation at Gables Neurology today by calling our office or requesting an appointment online.