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Stroke Awareness: Prevention, Warning Signs & Recovery

Dr. Rima Dafer May 18, 2011 1:00 PM This chat has ended. Thank you for participating.
Catherine (Moderator) - 12:51 PM:
Welcome! Today’s chat: Stroke Awareness: Prevention, Warning Signs & Recovery will begin shortly. Please start submitting your questions and Dr. Rima Dafer will begin answering them as soon as we get started. While you are waiting for the chat to begin, feel free to visit the Neurological Institute to obtain more information about strokes. We will do our best to answer all of your questions, but because this is such a popular chat, the physician may not be able to answer all of your questions in the time allowed. Your understanding is greatly appreciated.

Rosalyn (Naperville, IL) - 1:01 PM:
My father suffered a stroke 5 years ago with weakness on one side. He has no motivation to exercise and has become even weaker - he now has difficulty walking altogether. This is very hard on my mother. Is it possible for him to regain his strength if he starts a new program and sticks with it?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
Post stroke depression is very common. It often interferes with therapy, and may halt any further improvement or recovery after a stroke. This should be addressed carefully with his treating physician

Faith (North Chicago, IL) - 1:04 PM:
My mother and her three sisters hav died of complications of diabetes. One problem that some of them had was a stroke. I have had the gastric bypass to help me with weight control & am no longer on diabetes meds. However, my blood pressure is still out of control. I suffer horrible headaches which we thought were sinus but may be migraines. How do I tell when it's a sinus or migraine & not possibly a stroke? Thanks.

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
It is true that acute headache could be a manifestation of acute stroke. However, it is only when the headache is sudden, severe, worst of someone's life. If you are complaining of frequent debilitating headaches that often interfere with your ability to function, then it is likely that the headaches are migraines rather than sinus headaches. If you complaing of more than 4 headaches a month, it is advisable that you discuss that with your physician and consider preventive treatment for the migraines.

Dennis (Dyer, IN) - 1:08 PM:
I am interested to know what you think about stem cell therapy for Parkinson's patients.

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
Stem cell therapy is promissing for various neurological conditions, including stroke and Parkinson's disease. However, it is in its early research phase.

Nicole (Evanston, IL) - 1:09 PM:
I heard Advil greatly decrease your risk of getting a stroke. Is that true? Should it just be taken everyday then?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
Advil does not reduce the risk of stroke and should not be taken daily

Bryan (Chicago, IL) - 1:10 PM:
My mother recently suffered a stroke, and has lost the majority of movement in her right arm - will this be gone forever?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
Stroke patients often regain some of the movement and motor functions after a stroke. The best improvement is usually noted in the first 3 monhts after a stroke. We continue to see gradual but slow improvement thereafter especially with continuous physical therapy

Rachel (Northbrook, IL) - 1:12 PM:
I have a family history of diabetes, but no strokes. I don't have diabetes, but do I have a higher risk of getting a stroke?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
Family history of stroke usually increases someone's risk of stroke. In your family, it is likely that diabetes is the main risk. If you are not diabetic, and you live an active healthy life, your risk is low

Lisa (Shaumburg, IL) - 1:13 PM:
What are the chances are suffering multiple strokes?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
It all depends on the underlying cause of the stroke. For example, if someone continues to smoke after a stroke, the chance of suffering another event is high

Nicole (Evanston, IL) - 1:15 PM:
Besides proper diet and exercise, are there any other measures I can take to help prevent stroke?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
Avoid smoking, limit alcohol use, abstain from drug use, and have regular check up to identify conditions that could cause stroke such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

Karen (Skokie, IL) - 1:16 PM:
How does a stroke progress? What are the warning signs?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
Warning signs include: 1- sudden inability to speak or understand 2- sudden loss of vision, double vision, or blurred vision in one or two eyes 3- sudden dizziness or unsteadiness 4- sudden numbness or weakness 5- sudden severe unexplained headache symptoms may start as minimal, and may get worse if we do not seek immediate medical help

Kyle (Glenview, IL) - 1:18 PM:
My Dad had a stroke 2 years ago, and is barely regaining the majority of his speech. Is there a max timeframe that it takes for people to get back to normal?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
We see most of the improvement within the first 6 months after a stroke. Speech therapy (even if continued by family or using a computersystem at home could help patients regain some of their speech beyound the 6 months period

Scott (Chicago, IL) - 1:20 PM:
Are there support groups for people who have had strokes? Also for family members of those that have had strokes?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
There are support groups for both stroke survivors and caregivers/family members. Northshore has a stroke suppot group (day/time listed on the web)

Nancy (Glenview, IL) - 1:22 PM:
My blood pressure has been pretty high lately. While I've been working to lower it, does this increase my risk of having a stroke? Family history is not a factor.

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
Blood pressure is an independent risk factor for stroke. Agressive control of blood pressure (diet, exercise, and medication) is key in reducing your risk of having a stroke.

Grayson (Wheaton, IL) - 1:23 PM:
I'm a recovered alcoholic and former smoker. I get yearly check ups, but I fear I am at risk for a stroke - is this correct?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
Smoking and excessive alcohol use increase the risk of stroke It you quit for more than 5 years, your risk is as low as someone who does not smoke.

Jon (Downers Grove, IL) - 1:25 PM:
What medicines are used to treat a stroke?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
It depends on the cause of stroke and its onset. There is only one approved treatment for acute ischemic stroke (due to blockage of a vessel), if it happens within less that 4 and half hours: it is known as tPA or clot buster. There are medications to prevent ischemic strokes such as aspirin, Plavix, Aggrenox, and many others

Teri (Chicago, IL) - 1:28 PM:
Are there any other complications that can develop from a stroke - such as a heart attack or cancer?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
Heart attacks may occur in stroke patients as the risk factors are similar. Cancer is not a complication of strokes. Chronic complications of stroke include seizures, contractures, speech impairment, difficulties swallowing, depression, clots in legs or lungs, infections

Mike (Oak Park, IL) - 1:31 PM:
I'm contemplating having gastric bypass surgery, but I heard that complications of stroke can arise during the procedure. Is this true, and if so, are there any steps I could help prevent it before the surgery?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
Any surgical procedure carries the risk of stroke, not gastric bypass per se

Rich (Buffalo Grove, IL) - 1:33 PM:
What are some common effects of a stroke that you see in patients.. such as tiredness, confusion.. etc?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
it all depends on location and size of the stroke. Tiredness, depression, memory problems are not uncommon in most the strokes.

Dan (Lake Forest, IL) - 1:34 PM:
How are diabetes and strokes related?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
Diabetes is a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease as it can affect the blood vessels to the brain and heart. Diabets should be treated seriously and aggressively

Elyse (Evanston, IL) - 1:37 PM:
My husband had a stroke and has had a personality change. Is this normal?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
it is not unusual for stroke patients to have personality changes. Depresssion is also common after a stroke

Bill (Chicago, IL) - 1:41 PM:
My brother had a stroke over a year ago, and I've noticed recently that his alcohol intake has increase. I'm worried this could is increase his risk of another stroke. Should I talk to him about it?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
That will definitley increases his risk of another stroke. Depression is very common after a stroke. This could be one reason your brother is increasing his alcohol intake. Talk to him about it, and advise him to seek medical help for depression and drinking.

Craig (Highland Park, IL) - 1:42 PM:
What is the prognosis for TIA?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
TIA stands for transient ischemic attack, or stroke warning. Patients with TIA do not have residual deficit. The problem however taht patients with TIA could progress to have strokes if they do not immediately seek medical advice

Jason (Lombard, IL) - 1:44 PM:
I had a mini-stroke a few months ago, I feel pretty fine. Do you recommend I give up smoking AND drinking completely. I only did them occasionally before the stroke.

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
YES. Smoking is a major risk factor for stroke. Quit smoking immediately, and try to drink only with moderation

Jim (Skokie, IL) - 1:47 PM:
How long does it take to regain control of daily functions?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
it all depends on extent on location of stroke, extent of deficit, and motivatiob. Most patients with minor strokes regain control of many activities of daily living over a period of 2-3 months.

Cynthia (Chicago, IL) - 1:49 PM:
How long does it take for an untreated stroke to have permanent affects on you?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
Stroke should be treated immediately as a medical emergency. Neurological impairement may occur, and may be permanent otherwise depending on the size and location of stroke.

Lisa (Evanston, IL) - 1:51 PM:
Are women at greater risk for stroke than men?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
Men are at greater risk of stroke, however women usually have worse stroke

Catherine (Moderator) - 1:52 PM:
Thank you everyone for your great participation, the chat will be ending in approximately 10 minutes. Please submit any final questions you have.

Lisa (Evanston, IL) - 1:53 PM:
When you say "worse" does that mean, women have more permanent damage such as loss of speech or movement?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
women are more than likely than man to neglect symptoms of stroke

Jesse (Glenview, IL) - 1:57 PM:
What should you do if you think someone is having a stroke?

Dr. Rima Dafer (NorthShore):
call 911 immediately. time is BRAIN

Catherine (Moderator) - 2:00 PM:
Thank you again for participating in our chat today. For more information please visit our Neurological Institute pages.

Also, a transcript of this chat will be available shortly.
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