In March, we talked about Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Pulmonary Embolism (PE) that can occur when a blood clot travels from the deep vein to the lungs, causing a life threatening emergency. However, there are other risks for blood clots, such as strokes and heart attacks. This month, for Stroke Awareness Month , we’re focusing on the relationship between blood clots and embolic strokes, a condition that affects one American every 40 seconds.
Stroke Awareness Month: Frequently Asked Questions
What Is an Embolic Stroke?
An embolic stroke,occurs when a blood clot forms elsewhere and travels or moves caus ing a blockage of an artery that lead to the brain. The clot obstructs or blocks the blood supply to that portion of the brain resulting in a stroke.
How Do Blood Clots Cause an Embolic Stroke?
The development of a blood clot can happen anywhere in the body including the veins, heart chambers or peripheral arteries. When clots embolize or move they eventually lodge somewhere else in the blood system. The difference in severity for embolic strokes depends on the area of the brain supplied by the artery that’s been blocked. The larger the blocked artery, the more severe the stroke. You can think of it kind of like a heart attack of the brain.
What Are the Symptoms of an Embolic Stroke?
There are notable symptoms that forewarn of an embolic stroke. They include weakness and numbness in the face, arms or entire side of the body; confusion; severe headaches; and difficulties with seeing, speaking and walking. Dizziness and a loss of coordination are very common as well. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
How Are Embolic Strokes Treated?
Once you’ve had an embolic stroke, there are several long-term treatments available. Blood thinners may be used, and further recovery may entail physical, occupational and speech therapy. The optimal treatment will depend on how much damage has been done. These treatments involve rehabilitation, with the ultimate goal of improving your strength and restoring your independence.
How Can an Embolic Stroke Be Prevented?
The best treatment is of course prevention. If you suffer from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, heart arrhythmia (atrial fibrillation), patent foramen ovale (opening between the right and left atrium) or diabetes, you’re at a greater risk for an embolic stroke. You can minimize these risk factors by leading a healthy lifestyle and seeking treatment for these conditions.
How Are Blood Clots Diagnosed and Treated to Prevent Stroke?
Diagnosis of a blood clot involves a physical exam and blood test. Pictures will be taken of your brain to assess if a blood clot is present. Various machines can capture this image, including a CT, an MRI and others. If your doctor confirms the presence of a blood clot, early treatments are administered in order to restore blood flow to the brain. The four early-treatment options include Alteplase, mechanical thrombectomy, aspirin and anticoagulants.
Stroke Awareness Month: Getting Help for Blood Clots and Preventing Embolic Stroke in Middle Georgia
If you have signs or symptoms of a stroke you should call 911 and seek immediate medical attention. If you want to prevent an embolic stroke, or you want to prevent blood clots, you need to be under the care of a physician who specializes in the treatment of your underlying condition.
If you have vein disease, you are at risk for developing deep and superficial vein clots. These clots can lead to a pulmonary embolus. To learn how you can take better care of your veins, visit us at Vein Specialists of the South in Middle Georgia. We’re proud to be a premier name in extensive vein care and specialize in varicose veins, spider veins, venous ulcers and more. We’re here to respond to any questions or concerns you may have.