We have received many questions and comments about the aftermath of a stroke. As we continue searching for answers to many of these questions, I reached out to Dr Emilio Oribe, director of neurology at the New York Hospital in Queens, and clinical assistant professor of neurology at the Weill-Cornell Medical College of Cornell University.
Dr. Oribe is a respected colleague whose specialty, neurology, is the medical science that deals with the nervous system and disorders affecting it. Dr.Oribe knows a lot about treating and surviving a stroke. I posed many of our questions about stroke to Dr. Oribe during a recent interview. Here are his answers:
What are the initial therapeutic steps taken after a major stroke?
Dr. Oribe: There are two major types of stroke. Lack of adequate blood supply to an area of the nervous system due to an obstructed blood vessel ("ischemic" stroke) causes approximately 80 percent of strokes, while bleeding due to rupture of a blood vessel ("hemorrhagic stroke") is responsible for the remaining 20 percent.
Treatment of a stroke depends on the underlying causes of stroke and always is considered on an individual basis. Patients with acute ischemic stroke who present to hospital within a few hours of symptom onset may be candidates to receive drugs that attempt to dissolve the obstructing blood clots ("thrombolysis"), such as t-PA (tissue plasminogen activator).
However, while this treatment offers benefit based on studies showing decreased disability from stroke, it carries significant risk of bleeding (into the brain and elsewhere) and strict guidelines for its use are required.
Treatment of patients with hemorrhagic stroke depends on the underlying reason for bleeding. For example, if the hemorrhage is due to the rupture of a blood vessel aneurysm, treatment is aimed at its surgical repair to prevent further bleeding. In some situations, surgical evacuation of the hemorrhage may also be considered.
There are some reports that music therapy and aquatic treatments, as well as memory exercises, are beneficial in stroke victims. Is this true?
Dr. Oribe: During the rehabilitation process following a stroke, exercise programs address issues such as walking or climbing stairs, and recovery of functions of daily living. Some exercise programs may involve an aquatic component. Recreational therapists may also help stimulate damaged brain areas with music or play therapy.
Do women and men react the same way to a stroke?
Dr. Oribe: Women and men react the same way to a stroke. However, men do have an increased risk for the development of stroke when compared to women. Other risk factors include older age, family history, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, increased cholesterol, heavy alcohol use, and cardiac or peripheral vascular disease.
Are there any alternative treatments, such as the use of stem cells, that are effective in regenerating brain tissue and functions?
Dr. Oribe: There are many exciting studies investigating what role stem cell therapy can play in replacement of nerve tissue following stroke. However, at this time none such therapies have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
For more information on stroke, visit Stroke Association.org.
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FOX News medical contributor Dr. Manny Alvarez is the Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, N.J., and is Adjunct Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at New York University School of Medicine in New York City. He appears on FNC's daytime programs FOX & Friends and Dayside.
Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. For more information on Dr. Manny's work, visit AskDrManny.com.