May is Stroke Awareness Month.
Dr. Arun Talkad, with OSF HealthCare, says simply put, a stroke is a brain attack.
“It’s an acute, abrupt disruption of blood flow to the brain,” Talkad said.
Talkad told WMBD’s Greg and Dan that a stroke happens when plaque builds up in some part of the brain, or when plaque breaks off from another part of the body like the neck or heart.
Talkad says the most common type of stroke is where one of the arteries in the brain gets blocked.
“But, you can have those arteries burst too. And, they don’t have to be an aneurysm. They can just be one of the tiny blood vessels that bursts because of high blood pressure or whatever, but that’s still going to be a stroke,” Talkad said.
Talkad says the single greatest factor for stroke is age. Family history and gender can also play a role.
Lifestyle factors include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, poor diet and exercise habits, and high cholesterol.
Talkad says surgery and stents can help prevent strokes, but they are typically not used until someone has already suffered a stroke.