- What is a stroke?
- Why is preventing a stroke important?
- When is it time to see a vascular surgeon?
- What treatments are available for stroke?
- Can I prevent a stroke naturally?
In many ways, stroke can be described as a silent killer. It can sneak up on you quickly, and usually, people don’t recognize the signs of a stroke. Anyone can be afflicted suddenly by a stroke, and it can have life-changing to deadly consequences.
What happens in the body when a stroke occurs? Is there any way to prevent a stroke from happening? Allow our vascular surgeons at Vascular Specialists of Central Florida to answer these questions.
What Is a Stroke?
Let’s start with the general definition of a stroke. Kevin Treto, M.D., describes a stroke as, “A part of the brain that has essentially disrupted blood flow either by bleeding or by blockages in the blood vessels.”
The organs in your body are nourished by the blood that circulates through the body in your veins and arteries. Oxygen and nutrients are carried over this superhighway to feed tissues and organs around the body. If that blood flow is interrupted, cells can quickly be damaged and die off. When that happens to the brain, which is like mission control for the body, serious complications and even death can occur.
A stroke requires prompt treatment. Your fast response reduces the chance of brain damage or other serious damage. Do you know the signs of a stroke? They are:
- Trouble with speech or with understanding what people are saying to you
- Facial paralysis or one-sided weakness that makes it hard to lift your arms
- Blurred or double vision in one or both eyes
- Sudden, blinding headache that may cause you to vomit or pass out
- Difficulty walking or trouble with your coordination
Strokes are often sudden and dramatically terrifying in their intensity. Know the signs and seek help immediately.
Why Is Preventing a Stroke So Important?
The best defense against the effects of a stroke is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Preventing stroke is important because this is a sudden illness that can wreak havoc in the body fast or kill you just as quickly. While your age or a genetic history of stroke in your family can make you more susceptible to this disease, there are also lots of factors that can lead to stroke that you can control.
Charles S. Thompson, M.D., F.A.C.S., says that at Vascular Specialists of Central Florida, he and his team not only perform procedures to reduce chances of stroke, but they also counsel patients in many lifestyle changes that can help lower their risk. “Those may include smoking cessation, vigorous exercise, and then changing their diet,” Dr. Thompson says.
Lowering blood pressure can drastically lessen your chances of stroke. If you have other complicating factors such as an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) or diabetes, make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions to treat the condition.
When Is It Time to See a Vascular Surgeon?
There are 60,000 miles of blood vessels responsible for carrying oxygen and nutrients to your organs and extremities. This circulatory system is the domain of a vascular surgeon. You are typically referred to a vascular surgeon when there is a condition that affects this system.
Adam B. Levitt, M.D., R.V.T., F.A.C.S., says, “One of the common conditions that is referred to us is people with carotid disease.” Carotid stenosis is a narrowing of an artery that puts you at higher risk of stroke. As the narrowing increases, your risk of a life-threatening stroke goes up. Some of the typical signs of a vascular problem that would necessitate a trip to Vascular Specialists of Central Florida include:
- A history of stroke
- Leg pain when walking
- Wounds that won’t heal
While these symptoms can masquerade as “old age,” in fact, they can be signs of potentially serious vascular disease.
What Treatments Are Available for Stroke?
Dr. Treto describes some of the surgical treatments available for stroke patients or for patients who have blockages. He says, “When it comes to blockages in the blood vessels, the portion where the vascular surgeon comes into play is when the blockage comes from one of the arteries in your neck, particularly your carotid artery.”
While surgery isn’t always necessary with these types of health issues, Dr. Treto says, “Ultimately, the definitive way to treat the artery is a surgical procedure either opening it with a stent or treating the blockage by cleaning out the artery.”
Can I Prevent a Stroke Naturally?
You can prevent a stroke naturally by taking on some lifestyle changes such as:
- Avoiding foods that are high in saturated fats
- Drinking alcohol only in moderation
- Eating four or five cups of vegetables and fruits each day
- Eating one serving of fish two or three times a week
- Increasing your exercise to at least 30-minutes or more a day
- Losing weight by eating no more than 1,500 to 2,000 calories a day
- Reducing the amount of salt in your daily diet to no more than 1,500 milligrams per day
- Stopping smoking
Ultimately, forming a strong partnership with your vascular care team will help you take the steps necessary to get back to health. What’s it like to visit a vascular surgeon?
Dr. Levitt says, “As Vascular Specialists, we care about every patient that we have. All the time I get patients that tell me they feel we don’t rush them, that we listen to them, and that we explain to them everything about what’s going on.”
You can trust the team at Vascular Specialists of Central Florida to provide you with the support and care you need to navigate your risk of stroke. Contact us today to hear more about your options.