Stroke FAQs

About Stroke FAQs

About The Emory Stroke Center FAQs

What should I do if I think someone is having a stroke?

A stroke should be treated as a medical emergency, similar to a heart attack.

It is very important to remain calm but to react quickly if someone you're with seems to be having a stroke. The longer you wait, the more likely that further damage to the brain will occur. You should immediately call 9-1-1 or an emergency service. Even if the person appears to "recover" do not hesitate to call for help. Brain damage can continue to occur for several hours after an attack, so the earlier the stroke victim receives treatment, the better.

What causes a stroke?

Strokes sometimes are called brain attacks because they often occur suddenly and result in loss of blood flow to the brain or bleeding into the brain that causes cells to die. Because injury that cell death causes to the brain progresses over time, it is vital to seek help immediately if someone you know is having a stroke.

Are there different types of stroke?

There are two major kinds of stroke. An ischemic stroke is one that is caused by an artery or blood vessel that is blocked. Approximately 80% of strokes are ischemic. Making up the other 20% are hemorrhagic strokes, which occur when a blood vessel or artery bursts and leaks into the brain.

Am I at risk for a stroke?

While hereditary factors play a role in the risk of stroke, there are many things you can do to help reduce your risk. Smoking, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure all can greatly increase your risk for a stroke. Risk for stroke provides one more compelling reason to quit smoking. In addition, diet and exercise can help control cholesterol, which is another risk factor for stroke. And, proper medication management can help control diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Are some people more at risk than others?

The risk of stroke increases with age, with people age 70 and older at the greatest risk. People of all ages, however, can have a stroke. Men are at a slightly greater risk for stroke than women, but because women in the United States live longer on average than men, there are more female stroke survivors. Women tend to have strokes at earlier ages than men (in their 40s and 50s) and are more likely to die from a stroke. Strokes are the 2nd leading cause of death among women. African-Americans are three to five times more likely to have a stroke, and people with diabetes and heart disease also have a greater risk.

What are the symptoms of a stroke?

Before any of the symptoms (listed below) occur, there may be a sudden onset of the "worst headache of your life." The following symptoms of stroke can occur together, or only one or two symptoms may occur:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden difficulty seeing or loss of vision.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or imbalance.

These symptoms may be mild or severe in nature and may be temporary or permanent. If they are temporary (i.e., typically lasting 5-15 minutes), the episodes are referred to as transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). TIAs are important warning signs of a possible impending stroke and require urgent evaluation.

Do victims of a stroke ever return to normal after suffering a stroke?

The extent of recovery varies. A stroke kills brain cells. The extent of the brain damage and the size of the stroke are directly related to the extent of the impairments. People who suffer a minor stroke may have only slight impairments, such as a weak arm or leg. A massive stroke, however, can cause a person to lose the ability to read, write, or speak. It also can cause paralysis. Fortunately, with rehabilitation therapy, about 25% of victims recover with slight impairments and an additional 10% recover almost completely.

What kind of treatment is available for stroke victims?

The type of treatment provided depends on the type and severity of the stroke. If the victim has suffered an ischemic stroke, immediate therapies may include clot-busting medications, surgery, and/or interventional neuroradiology. If the victim has suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, immediate therapies may include medications and/or surgery. REMEMBER: The sooner the victim receives treatment, the better his or her chances are of survival and recovery.

What kind of rehabilitation is available for stroke victims?

Rehabilitation is a critical aspect of stroke care. The Emory Stroke Center offers patients the most comprehensive stroke care in the Southeast. Our rehabilitation program includes speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy, with rehabilitative physicians and staff who specialize in helping stroke patients regain their independence.

What does a multidisciplinary approach mean in regards to stroke treatment?

The Emory Stroke Center uses a multidisciplinary approach that allows its physicians to become experts in their fields. This means Emory has a variety of doctors that all specialize in a unique area of stroke treatment, so they are able to provide a level of care almost impossible to achieve when focusing on multiple aspects of stroke treatment. The disciplines, or specialties, of Emory's Neurosciences physicians include:

  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Cerebrovascular surgery
  • Endovascular interventional radiology
  • Spine
  • Neurotrauma
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Neurological integral care

Learn more about the services and specialties of The Emory Stroke Center.

Why should I choose Emory?

Many hospitals and medical centers are not as thoroughly trained and equipped and may lack diagnostic and therapeutic services that currently are available for stroke victims. The Emory Stroke Center not only has the modern diagnostic and imaging equipment and new therapeutic options to help all types of stroke victims, but it also has the faculty, organization, and experience to be one of the top centers of its kind in the country.

  • Emory University's stroke and neurosurgery teams have collectively performed more surgeries for aneurysms and cerebrovascular malformations than almost any other center of its kind in the U.S.
  • Its volume-outcome relationships for many procedures, including surgical and endovascular procedures, are well established. (This means that because of the high volume of patients treated, the Emory Stroke Center sees better outcomes.)
  • Emory's Neuroscience clinics use a multidisciplinary approach, which allows our physicians to become experts in their fields.
  • Emory treats more brain aneurysms and vascular malformations of the brain and spinal cord than any institution in the region.
  • Emory has the only neurocritical care unit staffed by fully trained neurointensivists to provide the continuum of care needed for critically ill patients with cerebrovascular disorders.

How can I make an appointment?

If you would like additional information about our services and physicians in the Department of Neurosurgery, or if you would like to schedule an appointment for a consultation, you may contact us at the following:

Department of Neurosurgery
Emory University School of Medicine
1365-B Clifton Rd., NE, Ste. 2200
Atlanta, Georgia 30322
Phone: 404-778-5770
Fax: 404-778-4472

You may also contact Emory HealthConnection℠, a patient information service with a direct line to registered nurses and representatives who can answer your questions regarding health information or help you plan your Emory visit.

1-800-75-EMORY (404-778-7777), 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday

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