Being “Stroke Smart” Could Save Your Life

It’s scary but true: stroke is the third leading cause of death in the State of Maryland. But knowing a few stroke basics could save your life. We asked Aruna Bollineni, M.D., a neurologist with Carroll Health Group Neurology, to share with us the keys to being “stroke smart.”

What Is a Stroke?

“Much like a heart attack is a lack of blood flow to the heart, the majority of strokes are the result of a lack of blood flow to the brain,” Dr. Bollineni explains. “A small percentage of strokes occur when an artery in the brain leaks blood or ruptures. In either instance, brain cells are irreparably damaged at a rate of nearly two million cells per minute.”

What Are the Symptoms?

“Unlike a heart attack, a stroke is usually not painful,” warns Dr. Bollineni. “In fact, it’s possible to suffer a stroke and not realize it.” There are important warning signs to look out for, including:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, or trouble talking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

What Should I Do If I Observe Any of These Symptoms?

Call 9-1-1 right away; time is of the utmost importance. “If a stroke patient reaches the hospital fast enough, doctors can use a clot-busting medication called t-PA [tissue plasminogen activator] to help restore blood flow to the brain quickly and reduce the risk of permanent damage,” says Dr. Bollineni. “However, t-PA can only be given within a specific window of time, which is why it is vital to call 9-1-1 immediately.”

Can I Prevent a Stroke?

Certain risk factors for stroke, such as aging and a family history of the disease, cannot be controlled. But other risk factors can. “If you have heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or atrial fibrillation [irregular heartbeat], you can lower your risk by working closely with your physician to keep these conditions under control through medication, healthy diet and exercise,” says Dr. Bollineni.

Looking for a specialist close to home who can help you with your health concerns? The Mt. Airy Health & Wellness Pavilion offers physicians in a variety of specialties—including neurologists from Carroll Health Group Neurology—who are ready to assist you with getting on track to a healthier lifestyle.

In addition to meeting with your physician, many hospitals also offer preventive stroke screenings to alert you to your potential risks. Check with your local hospital to see how they can help you.

It’s a No Brainer—Get Stroke Smart

Visit carrollhealthgroup.com to learn more about the Carroll Health Group Neurology providers available at the Mt. Airy Health & Wellness Pavilion.

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