Strokes: Know the Basics
Strokes are emergency health conditions that can inflict serious brain damage and or even result in death without immediately treatment. That’s why it is important to prevent your risk of strokes. If you are concerned about stroke, talk to a doctor. If you are at high risk for stroke there may be some treatments that can help. Modern medicine has developed numerous ways to stop this life-threatening emergency before it happens. Also, people who get prompt treatment can often escape strokes with little long-lasting damage. Here’s how you and your doctor canreduce the risk of stroke and potentially save your life.
A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is blocked, usually by a blood clot, with resulting brain damage. This clot can originate in the heart or other areas of the body like the leg, and then travel through the blood stream and eventually travel to the brain.A stroke will produce symptoms such as sudden numbness on one side of the body, blurry vision in one eye, dizziness and inability to speak. This can occur for up to 15 minutes until blood supply to the brain is restored. If a stroke occurs for too long due to a blockage, then brain damage may be irreversible once enough brain cells are killed. With that said, preventing a stroke from happening will involve stopping these clots from blocking blood supply and forming in the first place.
Anticoagulants, also known as blood-thinners, increase the time it takes for blood to clot. They can prevent existing blood clots from becoming larger, reducing their ability to cut off blood supply. They can also prevent additional clots from forming in the first place. If you are susceptible to blood clotting, this medication may be imperative in preventing stroke.
Coumadin, also known as warfarin, is a powerful anticoagulant medication that minimizes and prevents clots, and requires constant monitoring. This monitoring involves an INR test that checks how quickly blood is clotting, in order to establish an appropriate dosage. It may be necessary for a doctor to test you daily, until your results are stable. INR tests are usually performed in a hospital or clinic. Taking Coumadin may also require you to maintain a balanced diet and minimize vitamin K intake, since it is essential for blood clotting.
Other newer anticoagulants, like Pradaxa and Xarelto do not require monitoring or watching vitamin K intake. This medication is especially ideal if warfarin produces side effects that certain patients cannot deal with, or if patients cannot maintain a safe level of warfarin in their blood. These medications are especially helpful to individuals with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat, who develop clots in the heart that travel to the brain. Individuals with deep vein thrombosis may also prevent stroke from taking this medication since clots can break off and possibly travel to the heart and then to the brain.
Antiplatelet drugs are type of drug most often used to prevent stroke. Antiplatelets like Aspirin, can effectively reduce clotting in the blood. It can be especially effective if taken in combination with a drug called Aggrenox, though it is usually taken by patients who’ve had strokes previously. Plavix is another antiplatelet that can be taken if a patient cannot take aspirin.