While stroke affects 750,000 Americans each year, more than 500,000 of these cases are preventable. At John C. Lincoln Hospitals, we strive to help our community understand the keys to stroke prevention, with hopes that we can reduce incidences of the disease.
Also called "cerebrovascular disease," stroke is caused when blood supply to the brain is interrupted, resulting in a depletion of oxygen and glucose. Lacking these nutrients, brain cells become damaged or die altogether, further impairing brain function.
There are two main types of stroke: ischemic stroke (a blockage in a blood vessel within the brain, due to a blood clot or fatty deposits) and hemorrhagic stroke (when a blood vessel within the brain ruptures, causing bleeding). Hemorrhagic strokes represent 15 percent of all strokes, yet they account for 30 percent of all stroke-related deaths.
Heart and Stroke: Stroke as "Brain Attack"
At John C. Lincoln, we actively promote stroke prevention. To help patients better understand stroke causes and ways in which stroke affects the brain, John C. Lincoln neurologists often compare stroke with heart attack, referring to stroke as "brain attack."
What happens in the heart during a heart attack also happens in the brain during stroke. The longer blood supply is interrupted, the more damage to tissue is caused. Just as "time is heart" with heart attacks, "time is brain" with strokes. For this reason, it's important to get treatment for stroke quickly. After the onset of stroke, approximately 2 million brain cells die each minute, until treatment is administered.
Diseases of the heart and stroke also share many risk factors. Some leading stroke causes are behavioral (smoking, lack of exercise and diet), while others cannot be controlled (age and genetic predisposition to high cholesterol, for example). Many factors — high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol — can be curbed through a stroke-prevention program outlined by a doctor.
Stroke Support Group: The Stroke Survivors Group meets at the Cowden Center, located on John C. Lincoln's North Mountain Campus. For two hours, patients and their families share stroke prevention ideas, coping skills and information on new therapies. See our Calendar of Events for upcoming Stroke Support Group meetings.