Stroke Prevention and Treatment

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 31, 2016

Each year, stroke impacts approximately 750,000 to 800,000 individuals in the United States. A leading cause of disability, many stroke survivors are left with significant speech, motor, and memory difficulties. More than half can’t return to work. For American Stroke Month, we’ve gathered our blog posts about stroke prevention, recognition, and treatment.


Stroke-1Do You Know Your Risk of Stroke?

Though you can’t change risk factors such as age, gender, and family history, you can reduce your risk of stroke. Pay attention to health measures (such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and body mass index), eat healthy foods, and develop healthy lifestyle habits (such as exercising regularly for 30 minutes or more each day). Learn more about reducing risk of stroke.

 

Stroke-2Stroke – Five Things You Need to Know

When it comes to stroke, think FAST. The acronym FAST (face, arms, speech, and time) is a quick way to determine if someone is having a stroke. Difficulty smiling, lifting both arms, and repeating a simple phrase are warning signs of stroke. If you observe these symptoms in someone, note the time and call 911 immediately. Learn more about the symptoms of stroke.

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What You Need to Know about Anticoagulant Therapy

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 23, 2016

Anterior cut of heart showing normal, healthy heart and conduction system vs. a damaged conduction system with arrows; ACardio_20140401_v2_001.ai SOURCE: cardiacsurg_maze_anat.ai

Anticoagulants are most commonly used to treat patients with atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heart rhythm.

Anticoagulants (blood thinners) are medications that are used to treat several types of cardiovascular conditions. They are commonly used to treat patients with atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heart rhythm, and also to help patients with mechanical heart valves or those who have had blood clots in either their veins or arteries.

For many years, warfarin (Coumadin®) was the only anticoagulant treatment option available. In recent years, however, several new types of blood thinners have been shown to be effective and safe, including dabigatran, rivaroxaban, apixaban, and edoxaban. These additional options are significant, as they can be preferable to warfarin in certain cases. The advantages of these newer drugs over warfarin include decreased risk of bleeding, no need for routine laboratory monitoring, and fewer interactions with foods and other drugs. The newer drugs, however, also have some limitations when compared with warfarin. These newer medications, for instance, are short-acting (having effects that last for a short time), which can create problems for patients who have issues with adherence (taking medications as prescribed). It also is easier to reverse the effects of warfarin when patients have a bleeding complication or overdose on their anticoagulant medication.

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Living with Atrial Fibrillation – Diagnosis and Treatment

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 1, 2015

It is important to treat atrial fibrillation, because the condition can worsen over time.

Are you or a family member one of the two million Americans living with atrial fibrillation? Atrial fibrillation (AFib, AF) is an abnormal heart rhythm that causes the upper chambers of the heart to beat in a rapid, irregular pattern. Seeking AFib treatment is important, as the condition can progress over time. Untreated, AFib can lead to an increased risk of stroke or heart failure.

Symptoms of atrial fibrillation can include palpitations, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Although the exact cause of AFib is not completely understood, it often is associated with increased age, sleep apnea, surgery, and a number of heart ailments, including hypertension, valvular heart disease, heart failure,  or congenital heart disease. AFib treatment typically  includes medication or ablation therapy.

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