Stroke

Stroke | Vascular Neurology of Southern California

In the United States, close to 800,000 people suffer from strokes each year. That is roughly one stroke every 40 seconds (Benjamin et al 2017). With 140,000 people dying of strokes each year, the consequences of strokes can be severe (CDC 2017). If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a stroke, you’ll want to seek the care of an expert stroke specialist.

Dr. M. Asif Taqi is set apart from others in the field for two reasons. As a triple-board certified neurosurgeon and stroke prevention specialist, he has years of experience and extensive expertise in treating stroke patients. And, perhaps even rarer than his superior technical skills is his incredible ability to connect with his patients. Dr. Taqi personally understands the emotional challenges that are presented when you or a loved one has had a stroke. Between his extensive training and his own family experiences, he has become the compassionate and caring, highly-skilled surgeon that you will want in your corner. He will take time to explain and answer any questions that might arise, and he works to ensure the utmost comfort of each of his patients. 

Contact us today to arrange your consultation with the best stroke physician in Thousand Oaks and West Hills.

What is a stroke?

A stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), occurs as a result of interrupted blood flow to an area of the brain. The brain requires a constant supply of energy and oxygen to function, and when blood isn’t able to reach part of the brain, damage can occur quite quickly. There are two main causes of stroke – a blockage of a blood vessel or leaking or bursting of a blood vessel. In either case, blood is prevented from reaching and feeding the downstream area of the brain.

What are the types of stroke?

A hemorrhagic stroke is the result of a bleed in the brain where a blood vessel has ruptured. Blood leaks into the surrounding tissue and creates external pressure that damages the brain cells in the area. A hemorrhagic stroke can occur within the brain (intracerebral hemorrhage) or between the brain and the layer of tissue that covers it (subarachnoid hemorrhage). People with high blood pressure and aneurysms are at higher risk for hemorrhagic stroke.

Most (>87%) strokes are caused by an ischemic incident in which blood flow to the brain has been blocked by a clot or stenosis of the blood vessel. Patients who have atherosclerosis are at higher risk for an ischemic stroke due to the buildup of fatty plaques that can block blood vessels. Patients may also experience an ischemic stroke when a blood clot from elsewhere in the body travels to and blocks a blood vessel that feeds the brain.

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a temporary blockage of blood flow to an area of the brain.  Generally, these last only minutes, and they do not do any permanent damage. A TIA occurs when a clot or narrowing of the blood vessel temporarily decreases blood supply, but the body is able to overcome this momentary blockage.

Symptoms of a TIA are the same as those of other strokes, but they get better on their own in a short period of time.  If you experience the symptoms of a stroke for even a short period of time, you should seek medical evaluation, as a TIA can be a warning of a more serious stroke to come.

What are the signs of stroke?

When someone has a stroke, there are a number of symptoms that may occur. The sooner a stroke is recognized, the sooner the person can get critical medical attention, so knowing and being able to recognize these symptoms could be life-saving. 

Stroke symptoms tend to come on suddenly. They include weakness or numbness on one side of the body, one-sided facial drooping, difficulty speaking or understanding others, confusion, loss of coordination and balance, difficulty walking or seeing, and severe headache. Not all patients experience all of these symptoms, but a sudden onset of any of these merits a call to emergency medical services and a trip to the hospital for evaluation.

 

Many organizations suggest that you use the “FAST” acronym to help you recognize the signs of a stroke:

F: Facial droop

  • Ask the person to smile- does only one side of the face respond?

A: Arms

  • Ask the person to lift their arms – do they seem to have difficulty lifting them both to the same level and keeping them there?

S: Speech

  • Ask the person to repeat some words or tell you where they are – is their speech slurred or odd?

T: Time

  • Call 911 if you notice any of these signs of stroke.

How is stroke treated?

Treatment for strokes depends on its location and which type of stroke has occurred. In some cases, surgical intervention is necessary to remove a blood clot, reduce pressure in the brain, or repair broken blood vessels. Comprehensive stroke treatment also includes measures to prevent future strokes, as patients who have had one stroke are more likely to have another. 1 in every 4 strokes that occur in the United States are in patients who have had a previous stroke (Benjamin et al 2017). Stroke prevention measures may include surgeries or medications to control blood pressure, blood clotting, or buildup of fatty plaques in the arteries.

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Recovering from stroke

You may experience temporary or long-term disabilities as a result of stroke. Recovery can include physical therapy to help your body adjust to the loss of muscle movements or difficulty speaking. Since patients who have had a stroke are more likely to experience another, stroke prevention treatments, such as certain medications or surgical procedures, will also likely be a part of your recovery. Dr. Taqi can help you understand your treatment plan and what you can do to enhance your recovery.

Stroke FAQs with Dr. M. Asif. Taqi

For you to have a productive consultation with Dr. Taqi, bring your medical records. This should include any imaging studies you’ve had done; though you can request that these be sent to the office, it can be helpful for you to bring a copy in DVD format just in case.  It is important that you also have a comprehensive list of any medications and over-the-counter drugs you are taking. Dr. Taqi will be happy to answer any question you have, so bring a list of these as well.

When you arrive at the hospital for your stroke evaluation, you will likely have a CT scan or some other imaging to determine what type of stroke you are having. You will also have blood tests to help rule out other potential causes of your symptoms. Finally, you may have an MRI, ultrasound, echocardiogram, or angiogram. The combination of diagnostic tests will help your doctor determine what type of stroke you are having, where,  and why.

Yes, if you’ve had a stroke or TIA already, you are more likely to have another.

Many patients are surprised to find out that most strokes are preventable. In fact, scientists estimate that roughly 90% of stroke risk can be attributed to modifiable risk factors (Benjamin et al 2019). These include high blood pressure, obesity, uncontrolled diabetes, and high blood cholesterol. In general, a healthy lifestyle that includes a whole foods, high fiber diet, regular exercise, and avoidance of smoking and excessive alcohol use can go a long way towards reducing these risk factors and decreasing the likelihood that you’ll experience a stroke.

Many patients are surprised to find out that most strokes are preventable. In fact, scientists estimate that roughly 90% of stroke risk can be attributed to modifiable risk factors (Benjamin et al 2019). These include high blood pressure, obesity, uncontrolled diabetes, and high blood cholesterol. In general, a healthy lifestyle that includes whole foods, high fiber diet, regular exercise, and avoidance of smoking and excessive alcohol use can go a long way towards reducing these risk factors and decreasing the likelihood that you’ll experience a stroke.

If you or your loved one have been given a diagnosis of stroke, seek care from Southern California’s leading stroke specialist and experienced neurosurgeon, Dr. M. Asif Taqi. Contact us or call 805.242.4884 to schedule your appointment today.

References

Benjamin EJ, Blaha MJ, Chiuve SE, Cushman M, Das SR, Deo R, de Ferranti SD, Floyd J, Fornage M, Gillespie C, Isasi CR, Jiménez MC, Jordan LC, Judd SE, Lackland D, Lichtman JH, Lisabeth L, Liu S, Longenecker CT, Mackey RH, Matsushita K, Mozaffarian D, Mussolino ME, Nasir K, Neumar RW, Palaniappan L, Pandey DK, Thiagarajan RR, Reeves MJ, Ritchey M, Rodriguez CJ, Roth GA, Rosamond WD, Sasson C, Towfighi A, Tsao CW, Turner MB, Virani SS, Voeks JH, Willey JZ, Wilkins JT, Wu JH, Alger HM, Wong SS, Muntner P; American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. (2017). Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2017 Update: A report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 135(10): e146-e603.

Benjamin EJ, Muntner P, Alonso A, Bittencourt MS, Callaway CW, Carson AP, Chamberlain AM, Chang AR, Cheng S, Das SR, Delling FN, Djousse L, Elkind MSV, Ferguson JF, Fornage M, Jordan LC, Khan SS, Kissela BM, Knutson KL, Kwan TW, Lackland DT, Lewis TT, Lichtman JH, Longenecker CT, Loop MS, Lutsey PL, Martin SS, Matsushita K, Moran AE, Mussolino ME, O’Flaherty M, Pandey A, Perak AM, Rosamond WD, Roth GA, Sampson UKA, Satou GM, Schroeder EB, Shah SH, Spartano NL, Stokes A, Tirschwell DL, Tsao CW, Turakhia MP, VanWagner LB, Wilkins JT, Wong SS, Virani SS; American Heart Association Council on Epidemiology and Prevention Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee.  (2019). Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2019 Update: A report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 139(10): e56-e528.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC). (2017). Vital Signs: Recent trends in stroke death rates. Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Reports. 66.