A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. A stroke is a medical emergency and immediate medical treatment is crucial. Early action can minimize brain damage and potential complications. Always call 911 at the first signs of stroke.
what a stroke looks likeThe numbers are alarming:
- A stroke occurs every 40 seconds and, on average, every four minutes someone dies of stroke.1
- Stroke kills nearly 129,000 people each year.1
- It is the No. 1 cause of disability and the No. 5 cause of death in the United States.1
- Each year, stroke kills two times as many women as breast cancer.1
- Up to 80% of strokes can be prevented through lifestyle changes and medications if necessary.2
- In 2015, Mayo Clinic Health System provided emergency treatment to over 850 people who had a stroke.
1 American Stroke Association
2 National Stroke Association
Ischemic stroke, which is the most common type of stroke, occurs when a blood clot blocks or plugs an artery leading to the brain. A blood clot often forms in arteries damaged by the buildup of plaques (atherosclerosis). It can occur in the carotid artery of the neck as well as other arteries.
Learn to think FAST
Watch for the following signs and symptoms if you think you or someone else may be having a stroke. Be sure to note when these signs and symptoms begin, because the length of time they have been present may guide treatment decisions:
- Trouble speaking or understanding
- Paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- A sudden, severe headache
Think FAST and do the following:
- Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
- Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Or is one arm unable to be raised?
- Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is his/her speech slurred or strange?
- Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
exceptional stroke care
Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato has been recognized with Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Centers. This means you will receive the highest level of stroke care centered on current research and your unique needs.
The stroke clinic provides individualized answers to your concerns and questions and offers evaluations and consultations if you’ve already had a stroke. In addition to serving as an information resource, the stroke clinic works with you and your family to prevent stroke by identifying and controlling risk factors.
What happens at the stroke clinic?
During a visit to the stroke clinic, you'll be evaluated by stroke experts including a neurologist and nurse practitioner, and receive education and resources to help with recovery and stroke prevention. After the evaluation, you may be referred to other members of the care team including physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, or physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians. The stroke team will provide a care plan and recommendation information to your primary care physician.
Joe Burns knows firsthand that when it comes to treating a stroke, it's all about time. Joe was packing for a trip to Florida when his wife noticed he was talking strange. She insisted they make the five minute drive to the Emergency Department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Fairmont. Following a CT scan, Joe was able to meet with a neurologist at Mayo Clinic — without leaving Fairmont. The appointment took place via stroke telemedicine, which allows specialists in Rochester to evaluate patients in other locations using audiovisual equipment. The service is also available in other local communities, including Mankato, New Prague, St. James, Springfield and Waseca. Joe was so grateful for the care he received that he and his wife went back to thank the caregivers after his recovery.
Following emergency treatment, stroke care focuses on helping you regain your strength, recover as much function as possible and return to independent living. The impact of your stroke depends on the area of the brain involved and the amount of tissue damaged.
If your stroke affected the right side of your brain, your movement and sensation on the left side of your body may be affected. If your stroke damaged the brain tissue on the left side of your brain, your movement and sensation on the right side of your body may be affected. Brain damage to the left side of your brain may cause speech and language disorders.
In addition, if you've had a stroke, you may have problems with breathing, swallowing, balancing and vision.
Most stroke survivors receive treatment in a rehabilitation program. Your doctor will recommend the most rigorous therapy program you can handle based on your age, overall health and your degree of disability from your stroke. Your doctor will take into consideration your lifestyle, interests and priorities, and the availability of family members or other caregivers.
Your rehabilitation program may begin before you leave the hospital. It may continue in a rehabilitation unit of the same hospital, another rehabilitation unit or skilled nursing facility, an outpatient unit, or your home.
Every person's stroke recovery is different. Depending on your condition, your treatment team may include:
- Doctor trained in brain conditions (neurologist)
- Rehabilitation doctor (physiatrist)
- Physical therapist
- Speech therapist
- Social worker
- Psychologist or psychiatrist
stroke preventionDoctors at Mayo Clinic have narrowed the list down to four key things you can do to dramatically reduce your chances of dying of a heart attack or stroke. Watch the video here.
- Don't smoke
- Maintain a healthy weight with a body mass index of 25 or lower
- Eat five servings of fruit and vegetables every day
- Exercise at least two and a half hours per week