WOMEN AND STROKE

What is a stroke?
   Stroke, also known as cerebral vascular accident (CVA) or "brain attack", occurs when the flow of blood supplying part of the brain is suddenly interrupted. There two types of stroke. The most common is caused by a blood clot which occludes an artery in the brain. The other type is hemorrhagic stroke which occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and spills blood.
   Deprived of oxygen, nerve cells in the area of the brain affected by a stroke die within minutes and the parts of the body controlled by these brain cells cease to function properly. Victims of stroke can have devastating symptoms that severely change their lives. Challenges may include speaking, controlling emotions, walking, and living independently. Recovery depends on the location and extent of the damage and ranges from death to complete return of all functions.

Statistics
Stroke is the leading cause of serious disability in adults.
Females account for approximately 60% of all strokes.
There are 5.7 million stroke survivors in the U.S.

Risk Factors
Risk increases with age - cannot be modified
Family history of cardiovascular disease - cannot be modified
Smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke
Obesity
High blood pressure
High blood cholesterol
Inactivity
Diet high in fat
Diabetes
Stress and depression
Atrial fibrillation

Signs and Symptoms
   It is very important to seek immediate help if you develop the signs and symptoms of a stroke. Do not wait hours to see if the symptoms get better - call 911 if symptoms last longer than 10-20 minutes. These are the most common signs and symptoms.
Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
Sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
Sudden difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

Treatment
   Recovering from a stroke can happen quickly or over a period of months, depending on the severity and location. There has been some success with "clot busting" drugs for a stroke caused by an obstructed blood vessel if administered shortly after the stroke. Surgery may be required to open up an obstructed blood vessel or to remove blood clots or repair weak blood vessels. There are many options for immediate care of a stroke but several are limited by time and risk. Some treatments must be started within 3 hours from the onset of stroke symptoms. There are other specialized interventional treatments available in two Wichita hospitals. Your physician will need to discuss the risks and benefits of these treatments before any decision is made. The best option is prevention of this potenially devastating disease. Most people will require physical and/or speech rehabilitation, sometimes to relearn basic functions, like walking, talking, writing or taking care of themselves. Subsequent strokes are common and blood thinning drugs or other types of medication may help prevent these.

Preventative Measures
   Lifestyle changes including regular physical activity, smoking cessation, good nutrition and a healthy weight reduce the risk of stroke. People diagnosed with high blood pressure or atrial fibrillation can cut stroke risk significantly by following their doctors orders. Many studies have shown that persons with atrial fibrillation are at a greatly increased risk of stroke unless adequate anticoagulating treatment is maintained. This takes careful medical management. Monitoring and controlling cholesterol and triglyceride levels and diabetes also reduces risk. Your doctor may recommend other preventive measures based on your medical and family histories.

WNH Services
Internal medicine and cardiology specialists
Rehabilitation services including physical, speech and occupational therapies
Diagnostic ultrasound and nuclear medicine
Computerized stress testing and electrocardiography
Dietetic teaching
Winfield Area Emergency Medical Service
24 hour emergency room and intensive care unit
Menders cardiac rehabilitation program
Home health care

Resources
American Stroke Association
American Heart Association
Smart Ways to Live Well