stroke awareness

American Stroke Awareness Month

Every year, nearly 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke. Of these strokes, nearly ¾ of them occurred in people over the age of 65. Strokes are so common and so serious that strokes are the leading cause of long-term disability in the US. May is Stroke Awareness month, and we wanted to spread information on what exactly happens during a stroke and what to do to prevent strokes from occurring.

First of all, it is important to understand a stroke. Your brain has a number of blood vessels called arteries that carry oxygen and other nutrients to various parts of the brain. Your brain relies on arteries for a constant supply of fresh blood to keep functioning. A stroke happens when one of these arteries either is blocked or bursts. Because an artery stops working, that part of the brain can actually die. Temporary blockage might not cause permanent damage but temporary malfunctions. This is known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA): the blood supply is stopped only for a short period of time.

What causes these blockages or bursts of arteries? Occasionally, a blood clot or plaque forms near the heart or near a large artery that leads to the brain. This plaque eventually moves through the arteries until it reaches the brain, and this causes a stroke. Alternatively, clots can form inside the artery in the brain and interrupts the blood flow. A burst artery, on the other hand, is caused due to high blood pressure and aneurysms. High blood pressure weakens the arteries over time since the body has to work harder to pump the same amount of blood through the body. An aneurysm, on the other hand, is simply an arterial weak spot that gets weaker and begins to bulge. Over time, the blood vessel may burst, causing a stroke.

There are a few ways to spot someone having a stroke. Signs of a stroke include:

  • Drooping side of the face
  • Speech difficulties
  • Muscle weakness on one side of the body
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of balance
  • Pins and needles-feeling
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness or vertigo

If you suspect someone is having a stroke, call 911 immediately. Calling emergency services could actually save someone’s life if they are having a stroke. If your doctor has indicated that you are at risk for a stroke, they might recommend certain medications or even surgery. Of course, the best care is preventative, and staying healthy will reduce your likelihood of having a stroke. This includes plenty of physical exercise and quitting smoking.

Talk to your physician if you have a family history of strokes. A stroke is not necessarily the primary disease, but is often caused by other health factors. Listing all your family history and helping your physician identify which diseases you are most at risk for can minimize your risk of having a stroke. If you are looking for a doctor in Irving, TX, MSCI can help. Contact us today and schedule an appointment with one of our medical providers.

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Diabetes on the Brain: Another Danger

Diabetes is one of the most common conditions in the US and affects around 25.8 million children in adults, with approximately 1.9 million new cases of diabetes diagnosed in 2010. While many people are familiar with the way that diabetes affects insulin production and usage, but new research indicates that type 2 diabetes may have another unfortunate side effect: loss of brain volume.

Some previous research indicated that the brain may reduce in size due to diabetes, and the previous hypothesis was that this effect stemmed from diabetes’ ability to damage the small blood vessels in the brain. Now, however, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania believe that diabetes reduces brain volume not because of damage to blood vessels but because the way the brain handles excess amounts of sugar.

The results of diabetes can be fairly drastic. Researchers noted that “for every 10 years someone had diabetes, the brain looked as if it was about two years older than the brain of someone without diabetes.” The areas of the brain particularly affected by volume loss are known as gray matter. These areas include the parts of the brain that involve muscle control, sensory processing like seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, self-control and decision making.

There are many factors that can lead to type 2 diabetes, and while the causes of the disease are not fully understood, doctors do believe that those who are at highest risk are those obese or overweight, have a family history of type 2 diabetes, have little exercise, exhibit high blood pressure, and have low HDL cholesterol or high triglycerides. If you are worried that you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, consulting a doctor is highly recommended. There are steps you can avoid to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

If you are looking for a doctor in the North Texas or Irving area, the physicians at MSCI are available to help. Contact our North Texas clinic today and schedule an appointment.