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What is a Stroke?: June 26, 2011

Stroke is the third largest cause of death behind heart diseases and cancer. How much do you really know about it?

Sometimes called a ‘brain attack’ a stroke is an interruption of blood flow to the brain.

“A stroke when there is a sudden occlusion or clotting up of an artery in the brain, and when that suddenly happens, the part of the brain that receives blood supply from the artery then gets damaged,” says Dr. Nima Mowzoon, a neurologist on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.

Its effects can be catastrophic. Phylis Rollin was in a coma for four months following a series of stroke.

“The only disability I have, I’m sure you can hear, is my speech.”

Marge Vermeyen still has trouble walking after her stroke five years ago.

“I was in the hospital for about three weeks and then they put me in a nursing home and I did rehab.”

Similar to what happens during a heart attack, a stroke is commonly brought on by a building up of cholesterol.

“Just like the carotid arteries in the heart, the blood vessels in the brain can have atherosclerosis which is starts off from cholesterol plaque,” says Dr. Mowzoon.

If taken at the first sign of a stroke, emergency-clotting medicine called TPAs can lessen the severity or prevent the stroke.

Stroke symptoms include numbness on one side of the body, confusion or trouble speaking, loss of balance or severe headache with no know cause.

There are also risk factors such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and smoking says Dr. Mowzoon.

The most important thing to remember if you suspect a stroke is to call 911, because time makes a difference.