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Health Condition

Stroke

About This Condition

Stroke is a condition caused by a lack of blood supply to the brain or by hemorrhage (bleeding) within the brain.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, but most strokes are not fatal. Depending on the area of the brain that is damaged, a stroke can cause coma, reversible or irreversible paralysis, speech problems, visual disturbances, and dementia. Factors that increase the risk of certain types of stroke include hypertension, diabetes, elevated levels of high cholesterol or homocysteine, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) of the blood vessels that supply the brain.

Symptoms

Symptoms of stroke include weakness, numbness, or inability to move an arm or leg; sudden and intense headache; severe dizziness or loss of coordination and balance; difficulty with speaking or understanding; and blurred or decreased vision in one or both eyes. People with stroke may also have seizures, vomiting, drooling, and difficulty swallowing. Some people experience temporary warning episodes of neurologic symptoms called transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) before suffering a complete stroke. People experiencing symptoms suggestive of having suffered a stroke or a TIA require immediate (emergency room) medical attention.

Other Therapies

Individuals who experience a stroke caused by blockage of blood vessels (ischemic stroke) receive clot-dissolving (thrombolytic) medications, such as recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (Alteplase®) and the anticoagulant heparin. Individuals who have a stroke due to bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke) usually receive a surgical procedure that stops bleeding and repairs blood vessels. After the acute treatment of stroke, doctors often recommend rehabilitation, including physical, speech, and occupational therapy.

References

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34. Ascherio A, Rimm EB, Hernan MA, et al. Relation of consumption of vitamin E, vitamin C, and carotenoids to risk for stroke among men in the United States. Ann Intern Med 1999;130:963-70.

35. Mark SD, Wang W, Fraumeni JF Jr, et al. Do nutritional supplements lower the risk of stroke or hypertension? Epidemiology 1998;9:9-15.

36. Hennekens CH, Buring JE, Manson JE, et al. Lack of effect of long-term supplementation with beta carotene on the incidence of malignant neoplasms and cardiovascular disease. N Engl J Med 1996;334:1145-9.

37. The Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group. The effect of vitamin E and beta carotene on the incidence of lung cancer and other cancers in male smokers. N Engl J Med 1994;330:1029-35.

38. Leppala JM, Virtamo J, Fogelholm R, et al. Controlled trial of alpha-tocopherol and beta-carotene supplements on stroke incidence and mortality in male smokers. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 2000;20:230-5.

39. Leppala JM, Virtamo J, Fogelholm R, et al. Vitamin E and beta carotene supplementation in high risk for stroke: a subgroup analysis of the alpha-tocopherol, beta-carotene cancer prevention study. Arch Neurol 2000;57:1503-9.

40. Kopecky SL, Gersh BJ, McGoon MD, et al. Lone atrial fibrillation in elderly persons: a marker for cardiovascular risk. Arch Intern Med 1999;159:1118-22.

41. Bordia A, Verma SK, Srivastava KC. Effect of garlic (Allium sativum) on blood lipids, blood sugar, fibrinogen and fibrinolytic activity in patients with coronary artery disease. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 1998;58:257-63.

42. Berthold HK, Sudhop T. Garlic preparations for prevention of atherosclerosis. Curr Opin Lipidol 1998;9:565-9 [review].

43. Kiesewetter H, Jung F, Pindur G, et al. Effect of garlic on thrombocyte aggregation, microcirculation and other risk factors. Int J Pharm Ther Toxicol 1991;29(4):151-5.

44. Leaf A, Weber PC. Cardiovascular effects of n-3 fatty acids. N Engl J Med 1988;318:549-57 [review].

45. Calzada C, Bruckdorfer KR, Rice-Evans CA. The influence of antioxidant nutrients on platelet function in healthy volunteers. Atherosclerosis 1997;128:97-105.

46. Steiner M. Vitamin E: more than an antioxidant. Clin Cardiol 1993;16:I16-8 [review].

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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.