What happens during a stroke? How do I know if someone, including myself, is having a stroke?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Michael Brin DO, MPH, FACEP
Medical Director Emergency Department CSM-Ozaukee

What happens during a stroke? How do I know if someone, including myself, is having a stroke?

The brain is arguably, the most wondrous and amazing part of our body.

It controls everything we do, both consciously and subconsciously. It controls our breathing at night. It allows us to move, experience both physical and emotional feelings, and create memories. It also gives us our personality, for better or for worse! Only when something goes wrong with how our brain functions, do we appreciate what we have lost, whether temporarily or permanently. Illness and injury can affect our brains; however stroke is one of the most common causes of brain impairment and can strike without warning.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the number one cause of serious long-term disability in the US. Stroke is caused by any lack of blood flowing to the brain tissue in its usual manner and can result in loss of brain function. There are two kinds of stroke: hemorrhagic (or bleeding from a ruptured blood vessel) and ischemic (usually caused by a blockage of blood flow). The symptoms of stroke may be subtle or obvious. They can range from dizziness to loss of vision, headache to loss of use of one (or multiple) parts of your body, numbness to confusion, and speech changes to an unsteady gait.

The role of Emergency Department in treating stroke has been magnified in recent years. Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Ozaukee is a nationally-recognized Certified Primary Stroke Center. Our training and our protocols allow us to identify and treat stroke victims quickly and effectively using advanced technology and resources. The most important component of successful stroke treatment is knowledge about stroke, and this comes through educating our community about the signs and symptoms of stroke and the importance of getting medical care immediately. I will be giving a talk about these things entitled “Caring for a Brain in Crisis” on Wednesday, May 11, at 6:30 pm at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Ozaukee. All are welcome to attend.

With stroke, it is important to remember that “time lost is brain lost.” Because of this, it’s critical that everyone know the signs and symptoms of stroke and what to do if you suspect someone is having one.



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