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Underlying Causes of Stroke Are Many: Doctor

A stroke is caused when the blood supply to any part of the brain is interrupted. The two major causes are bleeding or blood clotting in the brain, often caused by high blood pressure, with risk increasing with age, hereditary conditions, smoking, high cholesterol and heart disease, a doctor said Thursday, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

A stroke is a medical emergency, said Taing Tek Hong, who practices in Florida. It should be treated immediately to reduce the risk of disability.

Surgery, medication, hospital care and rehabilitation are all treatments for stroke. One type of surgery is performed to remove fatty build-up in the carotid artery.

“Early recognition of stroke symptoms is crucial,” he said. “The sooner treatment is given, the better. This can be best done in a ‘stroke unit,’ a dedicated area in the hospital staffed by nurses and therapists with experience in stroke treatment.”

“Stroke rehabilitation should be started as immediately as possible and can last for a few days to over a year,” he said. “Patients with disabling strokes need physical therapy (re-learning to walk or perform other gross motor functions), occupational therapy (re-learning activities of daily living such as eating, drinking, dressing, bathing, cooking, reading and writing, toileting).”

“Speech and language therapy help patients with problems understanding speech or written words, problem forming speech and problems with swallowing,” he said.

One listener to the program asked the doctor whether his severe headaches, which have no known cause but include tingling and numbness, might be symptoms of a stroke.

“This one is not a stroke,” the doctor said. “It is called a herniated disc. When the spinal cord or spinal nerves become compressed, they don’t work properly. This means that abnormal signals may get passed from the compressed nerves. By interfering with the pathway by which signals are sent from your brain out to your body and back to the brain, all of these symptoms can be caused by herniated disc pressing against the nerves.”

“In Cambodia, there has been a rapid increase in stroke mortality and prevalence of hypertension,” he said. “Hypertension and stroke occur at a relatively younger age. Overweight, alcohol, salt intake, diabetes, and smoking are risk factors for hypertension in Cambodia.”