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A stroke occurs when blood supply is suddenly interrupted to parts of the brain, depriving the nerves and brain tissue of oxygen. Without an immediate diagnosis and treatment, stroke patients may suffer permanent brain damage.
If your stroke has been mishandled by a health care provider, call Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.
Types of Stroke
Strokes are categorized as ischemic strokes, hemorrhagic strokes, and transient ischemic attacks.
Ischemic strokes account for about 87% of all stroke cases. They occur when blood vessels to the brain become obstructed by a clot, either as a result of fatty tissue buildup (thrombotic stroke) or as a result of a blood clot that travels from another part of the body (embolic stroke). Ischemic strokes can also occur as “silent strokes”, with no symptoms. Still, silent strokes are dangerous because they can cause memory loss, motor function loss, and mood disorders.
Hemorrhagic strokes account for about 13% of all stroke cases. Yet, they account for 40% of all stroke-related deaths. They occur when a blood vessel in the brain leaks or ruptures, causing swelling and damage. An intracerebral hemorrhage occurs when a blood vessel bursts in the brain, destroying surrounding brain tissue. A subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs when the bleeding is in the area between the brain and skull. Subarachnoid hemorrhages are often caused by a ruptured aneurysm.
Transient ischemic attacks (TIA) occur when blood flow to the brain is interrupted for a short period of time as a result of a blockage. TIA patients may not notice any symptoms or may notice symptoms disappear after 24 hours. A TIA episode usually means that a full stroke could happen in the future. About 40% of people who suffered a TIA episode will have a full stroke in their lifetime, and about 50% of all people who believed they had a TIA episode actually had a full stroke with brain damage.
Stroke Facts and Statistics
- Every year over 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke, almost one in four are people who have had a previous stroke
- About 130,000 Americans die from strokes, making it the 5th most common cause of death
- Almost half of all Americans have at least one of the major risk factors for stroke
- Stroke is a leading cause of disability and the leading preventable cause of disability
- About 60% of all stroke cases occur in women
Risk Factors and Symptoms of Stroke
Some of the most common risk factors for stroke are lifestyle-related and can be changed, treated, or controlled. Because of this, almost 80% of strokes are preventable. Risk factors for stroke include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Smoking tobacco
- Cardiovascular disease
- Physical inactivity
- Age— while many people under 55 have strokes, the risk for stroke doubles each decade after the age of 55
- Women on birth control pills
Symptoms of a stroke will depend on the severity and location of the stroke. Symptoms may slowly worsen or improve within 24 hours. Symptoms may include:
- Sudden numbness or weakening of the face, arm, or leg, particularly on one side
- Sudden vision problems in one or both eyes
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden severe headache without injury or known cause
- Sudden dizziness, difficulty walking, loss of balance and coordination
FAST is an acronym used to help recognize stroke symptoms. The National Stroke Association uses the following description:
F FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
T TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
If a person suffered a TIA or does not realize he or she suffered a stroke, other symptoms may help make a diagnosis. Other symptoms can include:
- Memory loss
- Behavior changes (like slow and cautious)
- Changes in taste
- Personality changes
- Hearing changes
- Changes in ability to feel pain or certain temperatures
To diagnose strokes doctors will first need to complete a full physical exam. They will need to understand the patient’s full personal and family medical history.
Diagnostic tests for stroke include imaging scans like CTs and MRIs, to detect changes in blood flow in the brain. Doctors may also order blood tests to examine the patient’s clotting ability.
Because 80% of strokes are preventable, management of risk factors like high blood pressure, smoking, and physical inactivity is important.
People with strokes need immediate medical attention. Treatment will depend on the type of stroke, the severity of the stroke, and the current health of the patient.
For ischemic strokes, the treatment options include tPA and endovascular procedures. tPA is a drug administered through an IV to dissolve blood clots and help blood flow to the brain. tPA must be administered within 3-5 hours to improve the chance of recovery. Patients may also be eligible for endovascular procedures where a device is inserted into the blocked vessel to remove the clot or to keep the vessel open.
For hemorrhagic strokes treatment options include endovascular procedures or surgical interventions. Endovascular treatments are used to implant mechanical devices to prevent rupture. Surgical treatments may also be used to stop the bleeding and to evacuate blood collections that may be compressing the brain.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuits for Negligent Stoke Diagnosis and Care in Maryland
Strokes require immediate medical attention. Without prompt treatment, a patient can suffer serious injuries, permanent disability, and even death.
A doctor should carefully manage a patient’s stroke risk factors. If a patient has already suffered a stroke, doctors need to diagnose and treat the stroke as quickly as possible. For example, tPA, the most common treatment used for ischemic strokes, must be delivered within 3 hours for most patients. Administering the drug later could actually cause more harm.
A doctor’s failure to properly assess, diagnose, treat and manage a patient’s risk factors and/or a patient’s stroke may be grounds for medical malpractice.
If your stroke has been mishandled by a health care provider, call our offices today. Our attorneys and on-staff medical professional will review your medical records and diagnostic tests to expose any negligence. At Gilman & Bedigian we aim to get the results you deserve. You will not pay any attorney fees until you are properly compensated for physical and emotional suffering, lost wages, medical expenses, and any other losses.