Dr. Sean Evans describes three tips for a woman who has suffered a stroke.
Three tips for women who have already suffered a stroke or a warning of a stroke, which is called a TIA, one is most importantly to know what your risk factors are. The concept for doctors is what are called modifiable risk factors, things like smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and the condition of your arteries in your neck and in your heart. Those make differences in how the doctor should respond for trying to optimize your medications and in some cases, surgical procedures to lower your future risk of stroke.
Therefore, a woman who really wants to take ownership of her own health should know what those risk factors are and should engage her doctor in that specific question.
The second factor that’s important to know is what medications you are taking to control your risk factors and to reduce the risk of stroke. That includes medicines for things like hypertension, for diabetes, for cholesterol, for certain heart conditions and also can include things like antiplatelet drugs such as aspirin or drugs called clopidogrel or Aggrenox. Those drugs lower people’s risk of stroke. They have certain side effects. They have ways that they work better, and a patient who knows which medicine they are on and why their doctor has chosen that medicine over the alternatives is a lot better informed to make good decisions about her own care.
And then the final thing is that the highest single risk factor for having a second stroke is having already had the first stroke, and so it’s really critical that women know the risk factor, the signs and symptoms that would suggest a second stroke happening. The reason for that is the critical nature of quickly responding. There are now medications that can be given in qualified emergency rooms that can reduce disability associated with a stroke and in some cases actually completely reverse a stroke in progress and so, quickly getting to an emergency room is the key.
The things to look for as warnings of a stroke would be a sudden change in sensation or motor control on half your body, a sudden change in your vision such as grayness or blackness in part of your sight, and a sudden change in your ability to speak or understand others that are speaking, and the way to get to an emergency room that’s ready for you, the fastest is always to dial 911.
The biggest single mistake that I unfortunately see patients make is calling their doctor’s office or calling a loved one first. The first call should be to 911. That way you start the clock on the system and get to some place that can help you as fast as possible.
About Dr. Evans, M.D.:
Dr. Evans joined the Neurosciences faculty in July 2005. Dr. Evans received a BS in Chemistry, Magna Cum Laude, from the University of Southern California, and a MD from UCSD. After a year of Internal Medicine training at Loma Linda Medical Center, he returned to UCSD for his residency in neurology. He has received several awards for academic excellence during his training and was the 25th Anniversary Scholar for the UCSD School of Medicine. He was named the valedictorian of UCSD’s National Center of Leadership in Academic Medicine’s class of 2006. He is a full-time clinical neurologist at the UCSD Neuroscience Center at Alvarado Hospital Medical Center.