Having a stroke is one of the most frightening prospects of aging. Strokes can come on suddenly, stealing the use of an arm or the ability to speak. A stroke can be fatal or leave us permanently disabled.
About half of all strokes are caused by atherosclerosis -- the same process of narrowing and hardening of the arteries that causes heart attacks. Atherosclerosis progresses silently, without symptoms, putting our brains and our independence at risk.
Reducing the risk factors for atherosclerosis...
Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements
Sudden problems with walking or balance
A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches
Other causes of these symptoms need to be considered too. When
more than one symptom is present, the pattern of the symptoms can be used to
decide whether they were likely to be caused by a TIA. The doctor will note
which symptoms were present and which areas of the body were involved. This
may help the doctor find out which part of the brain was affected. He or she also will
note how long the symptoms lasted. Symptoms of a TIA usually go away in minutes
(10 to 20 minutes).
The doctor also may ask questions to find out other possible causes
for the symptoms, such as flu, inner ear problems, stress, rapid breathing, low
blood sugar (if you have diabetes), or seizure.
Other information from the medical history often
the swishing sound-a
bruit (say "broo-E")-of blood flow through an artery
in your neck. Abnormal sounds heard in a blood vessel may be a sign that a
blood vessel is partially blocked, which may increase your risk for having a
Check for signs of
heart failure, such as swollen neck veins or crackling
sounds in your lungs. Heart failure increases your risk of having a TIA or