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e-Health Essentials Issues

e-Health Essentials Issues

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Strike Out Stroke!

Stroke – it’s become a household name in recent decades, and for good reason: Nearly 780,000 Americans suffer stroke annually, or one every 45 seconds. Separating myth from reality about this serious medical condition cannot only assist in its prevention but also empower persons at increased risk to get the medical help they need. Below, neurologist and stroke specialist Dr. Kathleen Wiese of Wilmington Health Associates and vascular surgeon Dr. Thomas Eskew of Wilmington Surgical Associates discuss the nature of stroke, its symptoms and treatments.

Q. What is stroke and how is it different from a heart attack?

A. Dr. Eskew - A stroke occurs when there is a sudden interruption or reduction in blood flow to the brain, depriving it of oxygen and nutrients. When this happens, brain cells begin to die, and brain damage, including loss of speech, movement and memory, may occur. Two kinds of stroke exist: Ischemic stroke occurs when the arteries to your brain are narrowed or blocked, usually because of a clot; hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in your brain leaks or ruptures. Many people get stroke and heart attack confused, as they both involve loss of blood flow. A heart attack, however, involves loss of blood flow to the heart, whereas stroke is loss of blood flow to the brain.

Q. What are the signs and symptoms of stroke?

A. Dr. Wiese – Generally speaking, the signs and symptoms of stroke are of sudden onset and may include any of the following: Numbness and tingling, especially of the face, arm or leg; sudden confusion; sudden headache or visual loss; and/or difficulty walking, or loss of balance and coordination. F.A.S.T., an acronym developed by the American Stroke Association, can be used to teach people the signs and symptoms of stroke, while reminding them to act fast: FACE - Does one side of the face droop? ARMS - Does one arm drift downward? SPEECH - Is there an inability to speak? Are words slurred and/or incoherent? TIME - Call 911 or get to the hospital fast.

Q. How is stroke medically treated?

A. Dr. Wiese - In the acute period, stroke may be treated with a “clot-busting” drug called tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA. Clearly, this drug is intended only for strokes resulting from blood clots, or ischemic strokes, which account for about 85 percent of strokes. Tissue plasminogen activator must be given within 3 hours of stroke onset. Long term, stroke is treated through rehabilitation and by decreasing the various risk factors that cause stroke. Critical to the effective treatment of stroke is early detection of symptoms and prompt medical attention. The quicker treatment begins, the less likely patients will suffer the long-term effects associated with stroke.


“Many people get stroke and heart attack confused, as they both involve loss of blood flow. A heart attack, however, involves loss of blood flow to the heart, whereas stroke is loss of blood flow to the brain.”

Dr. Thomas Eskew, Vascular Surgeon, Wilmington Surgical Associates
“Stroke is a devastating medical condition that can have far-reaching consequences not only for the patient but also the patient’s family and friends. But knowing your risk factors – and taking measures to minimize them – can significantly reduce your chances of stroke.”

Dr. Kathleen Wiese, Neurologist and Stroke Specialist, Wilmington Health Associates

Q. Are there surgical interventions for stroke?

A. Dr. Eskew - Various surgical procedures, including endarterectomy and angioplasty, can be used to open a blocked artery resulting from an ischemic stroke. For strokes resulting from leaky or ruptured vessels, surgical repair is also possible.

Q. Are some people more at risk for stroke than others?

A. Dr. Wiese – Stroke does not discriminate – all persons are at risk, even those who appear healthy and fit. Addressing and minimizing your stroke risk, however, can significantly reduce your chances of stroke. Risk factors you can control through lifestyle modification include high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity, smoking and alcohol use. Unfortunately, factors like age, gender, ethnicity and family history – which also play a role in stroke – can’t be changed. Studies show that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. Knowing and managing your risk factors is your best protection against stroke.

For more information or a physician referral, please visit or call VitaLine at 815.5188


2131 S. 17th Street, Wilmington, NC 28401  |  910.343.7000