What is a Stroke Screening?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

A stroke, which in medical terms is referred to as a cerebrovascular attack, is a medical emergency during which brain function rapidly decreases because of a disruption in the blood supply. Strokes can be fatal, but even survivors may have permanent neurological damage. High blood pressure, age, diabetes, high cholesterol, and smoking are all factors associated with stroke risk.

The human brain, including blood vessels that can be involved in a stroke.
The human brain, including blood vessels that can be involved in a stroke.

People who are at risk for a stroke can participate in screening procedures and work towards preventing a future stroke. The stroke screening is the same as a screening for carotid artery disease and is both non-invasive and relatively simple. Ultrasound technology is used to produce images of the carotid artery, the artery that supplies the head and neck with oxygenated blood. The images that are produced can show whether or not the artery is compromised by the buildup of plaque and whether or not the speed of blow flow is normal.

A diagram of an ischemic stroke and a hemorrhagic stroke.
A diagram of an ischemic stroke and a hemorrhagic stroke.

In general, people who are over 50, have a family history of strokes, or have any other stroke risk factors are the best candidates for stroke screening. If you think that you should have a stroke screening, talk to your doctor. It is possible that you will be able to have a stroke screening done by your physician or through a referral. Alternatively, you can make an appointment with an organization that specializes in stroke screenings and similar procedures.

Men are more likely to have strokes.
Men are more likely to have strokes.

If you complete a stroke screening and realize that you have a high risk, work with your doctor to develop a plan to decrease your risk. This plan may include both medication and changes to your lifestyle. There are some herbal and complementary remedies that have been developed to prevent strokes. Be sure to talk to your doctor before adding any of these remedies to your regimen.

Of course, one of the best forms of medicine is prevention. One of the keys to stroke prevention is to abstain from smoking. If you are currently a smoker, one of the best things that you can do to reduce your risk of having a stroke is to quit. Keeping a healthy weight and getting regular exercise are also very important for people who are trying to reduce their risk of having a stroke.

Another major factor in stroke prevention is diet. Those working to reduce their risk of a stroke should keep a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fats. It is also important to ingest limited amounts of sodium.

A blocked carotid artery can result in a stroke.
A blocked carotid artery can result in a stroke.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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