Time is critical for stroke patients. When seconds count, rushing to an advanced stroke center with the technology and capability to care for you can make a difference in how you recover. Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center is one of the stroke centers
in California with an experienced team of medical specialists who are committed to attending to the critical needs and helping improve the outcomes of stroke patients.
Our local interventional neurology team is on-call around the clock to provide an endovascular approach in treating stroke cases in San Luis Obispo County, drastically improving treatment time and helping minimize brain damage. You can expect an advanced
level of stroke care the moment you arrive at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center.
What exactly is a stroke?
A stroke is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention. Strokes happen when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, causing brain cells to die from lack of oxygenated blood.
There are two major kinds of stroke:
Ischemic Stroke – This is the most common type of stroke. It is caused by a blood clot that blocks or plugs a blood vessel or artery in the brain. This clot causes a region of the brain to be deprived of oxygen and essential nutrients
leading to death of brain cells.
Hemorrhagic Stroke – This type of stroke is caused by a blood vessel breaking and bleeding into the brain. Two types of weakened blood vessels that typically cause hemorrhagic stroke are aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs).
Brain Aneurysms – This occurs when a blood vessel develops a weak area in the wall that allows the vessel to balloon out and fill with blood.
Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) – AVMs happen when a group of blood vessels in your body forms incorrectly. In these malformations, arteries and veins are unusually tangled.
Why do people experience a stroke?
The reason why people get strokes depends on what kind of stroke they have. However, the risk factors of having a stroke include the following:
Prior Medical Conditions
High blood pressure – Also called hypertension, this can cause ischemic stroke due to a clot because high blood pressure damages the blood vessels and makes it stiffer and narrower. High blood pressure can also cause hemorrhagic stroke
due to a bleed because it can weaken blood vessels which can lead to a leak or burst.
Heart disease – This includes damaged heart valves and atrial fibrillation. The fatty deposits from heart disease may also cause a stroke.
Diabetes – This damages blood vessels which increases a person’s risk for a stroke.
Smoking – Nicotine raises blood pressure, cigarette smoke causes fat buildup and smoking thickens the blood, which poses a higher risk for blood clots.
Weight and exercise – Being overweight increases the risk of having a stroke. Regular exercise like walking or muscle-strengthening exercises can help lower a person’s risk of a stroke.
Other risk factors
Medications – Blood thinners, hormone therapy and low-dose estrogen might heighten the risk of having a stroke.
Age – Anyone can have a stroke, but chances of having one increase as you age.
Women have more strokes and die from stroke more than men.
Family history – Sometimes, stroke runs in the family. It can be caused by a history of hypertension or diabetes or a genetic disorder.
What are the symptoms of a stroke?
During a stroke, there is loss of blood flow to the brain. Symptoms of a stroke can be shown in the body parts controlled by the damaged areas of the brain. Common symptoms are as follows:
Sudden tingling, weakness, numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg
Severe, unrelenting headache
Nausea and Vomiting
Loss of balance or vision
Stiff neck and sensitivity to light
Change in level of consciousness or alertness, lack of energy, sleepiness or coma
Stroke requires immediate medical help. This can help prevent brain damage, long-term disability and death. Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center – San Luis Obispo has endovascular stroke treatments led by our specialized stroke response team. Stroke
treatments vary according to what kind of stroke we’re treating.
For ischemic stroke, the treatment/s might be as follows:
Antiplatelet and anticoagulants – Should be taken within 24-48 hours after the onset of symptoms. The most common is over-the-counter aspirin.
Clot-breaking drugs – Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is considered the gold standard in ischemic stroke treatment. It breaks up the blood clot within the brain if administered 3-4.5 hours after the onset of symptoms.
Stents – This is a procedure performed to inflate the narrowed artery and support the artery walls.
How to Spot a Stroke
Do they have sudden loss of balance?
Have they lost vision in one or both eyes?
Does their face look uneven?
Is one arm or leg weak or numb?
Is their speech slurred? Do they have trouble speaking or seem confused?