Friday, January 3, 2014

Ischemic strokes and Fibromuscular Dysplasia

Almost two years ago, I had two Ischemic strokes. Ischemic strokes accounts for about 87 percent of all cases. Ischemic strokes occur as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. 

My initial stroke was caused by a torn carotid artery. 

The American Heart and Stroke Association have a good definition:  “Cerebral embolism refers generally to a blood clot that forms at another location in the circulatory system, usually the heart and large arteries of the upper chest and neck. A portion of the blood clot breaks loose, enters the bloodstream and travels through the brain's blood vessels until it reaches vessels too small to let it pass. A second important cause of embolism is an irregular heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation. It creates conditions where clots can form in the heart, dislodge and travel to the brain.”

According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here are U.S. Statistics about strokes:
§  Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. More than 140,000 people die each year from stroke in the United States.
§  Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States — that’s 1 of every 19 deaths
§  Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.
§  Each year, approximately 795,000 people suffer a stroke. About 600,000 of these are first attacks, and 185,000 are recurrent attacks.
§  Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65. The risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after the age of 55.
§  Strokes can and do occur at ANY age. Nearly one fourth of strokes occur in people under the age of 65.
§  Stroke death rates are higher for African-Americans than for whites, even at younger ages.
§  On average, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds.
§  The risk of ischemic stroke in current smokers is about double that of nonsmokers after adjustment for other risk factors.
§  Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an independent risk factor for stroke, increasing risk about five-fold.
§  High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for stroke.

I did not have high blood pressure. I never smoked. I have “Fibromuscular dysplasia (FMD) is the abnormal development or growth of cells in the walls of arteries that can cause the vessels to narrow or bulge. The carotid arteries, which pass through the neck and supply blood to the brain, are commonly affected. Arteries within the brain and kidneys can also be affected.”

My stroke happened on January 10, 2012. Three days later, I had a massive one that caused me to lose all communication and assorted other problems; aphasia, apraxia, etc.

This is my brain scan. Dead tissue is “white.” There is a small white spot showing the first stroke. The second stroke damaged about 20 percent of my brain.

There were doctors who did not give me a lot of hope. There is a stark line between hope and realism. Most doctors err on the side of realism. I understand given all of the data, studies, etc. I also know that medical malpractice lawsuits cause doctors to not give a lot of hope. “Hope” is my mantra now.  

I know that I may never work again because of my deficits, but I am incredibly lucky that I am alive and recovering. One doctor said that "I am a miracle." Hope so....

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