By Tiffany Blackmon - bio | email
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) –Stroke is the third leading cause of death among Americans, and it's caused by the same disease as the nation's number one killer.
Dr. Fernando Ruiz, a Cardiologist at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital stated, "When we're talking about strokes, we're talking about brain damage that is occurring as a result of the blood flow being cut off."
Ruiz says just as it occurs in heart disease, arthrosclerosis, a vascular disease of the blood vessels, can lead to plaque or blockers in circulation.
The road to recovery after a stroke can be difficult.
"If you consider stroke as a cause of disability, it's one of the most important causes of disability nationwide," said Ruiz.
There are several risk factors that can increase one's chances of having a stroke.
"There are several factors that can be controlled and several risk factors that cannot," said Dr. Ruiz.
Factors that cannot be controlled include:
- Increasing age
- Sex (Gender)
- Heredity (family history)
- Previous heart attack or stroke or TIA
Factors that can be controlled include:
- Tobacco smoke and limiting exposure to second-hand smoke
- High blood cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Physical inactivity
- Obesity and overweight
- Diabetes mellitus
If you have diabetes, if not controlled it can contribute to the development arthrosclerosis.
"The most important thing is prevention, that's what we strive for," said Dr. Ruiz. "We don't want the patient to be in the emergency room, we want to prevent that from happening."
It is important to get to an emergency room as soon as you detect these warning signs of a stroke:
- Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Trouble speaking or understanding
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Difficulty walking
- Loss of balance or coordination
If you get to an emergency room within three to four hours after experiencing any of these signs, doctors can do a number of things to improve or restore circulation.