Strokes

Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles

Neurology Specialists located in Santa Monica, CA

With rapid emergency care, many patients survive a stroke and rehabilitate to live an active life. But it’s better to identify your risk and take steps to prevent a stroke, services you can get from Edward J. O’Connor, MD, FAAN, and Russ Shimizu, MD, at Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles. They have extensive experience in helping patients before, during, and after a stroke, providing treatments that minimize their risk and support rehabilitation. To learn more about your risk for stroke, call the office in Santa Monica, California, or book an appointment online today.

Strokes Q & A

What causes a stroke?

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted. The flow may be completely or partially blocked. Either way, the brain is deprived of oxygen and within minutes, brain cells die.

There are two primary types of stroke, ischemic and hemorrhagic:

Ischemic stroke

Ischemic strokes occur when a blood clot blocks blood flow. The clot may be due to atherosclerotic plaques inside the brain, or develop when a piece of plaque elsewhere in the body breaks off and travels to the brain.

Hemorrhagic stroke

This type of stroke develops when a blood vessel ruptures. Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by high blood pressure (hypertension), a brain aneurysm, or arteriovenous malformations.

What is a transient ischemic attack?

During a transient ischemic attack (TIA), you suffer a brief and temporary decline in the blood supply to your brain. TIA’s are often warning signs, as about 1 in 3 people go on to have a full stroke.  

You’ll have the same symptoms as a stroke, but since they’re usually gone within an hour, you may not realize the serious nature of the problem.

What symptoms develop during a stroke?

FAST is the acronym developed to help patients remember stroke symptoms and to act quickly. You can minimize brain damage by getting treatment within four hours.

Here’s what FAST stands for:

  • Face: one side of the face droops
  • Arm: one arm is weaker than the other
  • Speech: speech is slurred, or you have trouble speaking
  • Time: time is of the essence; call 911 immediately

Many people who suffer a stroke also experience:

  • Double or blurry vision
  • Confusion
  • A sudden and severe headache
  • Difficulty walking
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Vomiting

If you’re not sure about your symptoms, try to smile and see if both sides of your mouth turn up. You can test arm strength by holding both arms out in front of you. If you’re having a stroke, one arm may feel weak or drift down when you try to hold it up.

How is a stroke treated?

The goal of stroke treatment is to restore blood flow in the quickest way possible. For ischemic strokes, that means medication to dissolve the clot and sometimes surgery to open the artery. Emergency treatment for a hemorrhagic stroke also involves medication and surgery to repair the problem.

The doctors at Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles take an active role, advising on optimal treatment, managing your rehabilitation, and providing ongoing treatment to lower your risk of having another stroke.

Post-stroke rehabilitation uses a multimodal approach to rebuild your strength and skills. Your rehabilitation may include one or more of the following, depending on your individual needs:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Stem cell injections
  • Botulinum injections to relax spasticity
  • NeuroStar® transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy

To learn more about lowering your risk of a stroke or for ongoing care, call Neurological Associates of West Los Angeles or book an appointment online today.