645095 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Left-side Stroke

    (Stroke, Left-side; Left Hemisphere Stroke; Stroke, Left Hemisphere)

    Definition

    The cerebrum, the largest part of the brain, is separated into the right and left hemispheres. In most people, the left hemisphere is in charge of the functions on the right-side of the body, as well as the ability to speak, use language, and other abilities.
    A left-side stroke happens when the brain’s blood supply is interrupted in this area. Without oxygen and nutrients from blood, the brain tissue quickly dies. A stroke is a serious condition. It requires emergency care.
    cerebrum
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    Causes

    There are two main types of stroke:
    • Ischemic
    • Hemorrhagic
    An ischemic stroke (the more common form) is caused by a sudden decrease in blood flow to a region of the brain, which may be due to:
    • A clot that forms in another part of the body (eg, heart or neck) breaking off and blocking the flow in a blood vessel supplying the brain (embolus).
    • A clot that forms in an artery that supplies blood to the brain (thrombus)
    • A tear in a blood vessel supplying a part of the brain (arterial dissection)
    A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a burst blood vessel that results in bleeding in the brain.
    Hemorrhagic vs. Ischemic Stroke
    factsheet image
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Risk Factors

    Examples of risk factors that you can control or treat include:
    • Medicines (eg, long-term use of birth control pills )
    • Lifestyle factors
      • Smoking
      • Physical inactivity
      • Diet high in sodium and processed foods
    Risk factors that you cannot control include:
    • History of stroke , heart attack , or other type of cardiovascular disease
    • History of transient ischemic attack (TIA)—With a TIA, stroke symptoms often resolve within minutes (and always within 24 hours). They may signal a very high risk of having a stroke in the future.
    • Age: 60 or older
    • Family members who have had a stroke
    • Gender: males
    • Race: Black, Asian, Hispanic
    • Blood disorder that increases clotting
    • Heart valve disease (eg, mitral stenosis )

    Symptoms

    The immediate symptoms of a left-side stroke come on suddenly and may include:
    • Weakness or numbness of face, arm, or leg, especially on the right side of the body
    • Confusion
    • Trouble speaking or understanding ( aphasia )
    • Dizziness, loss of balance
    • Vision problems (on the right side of vision in both eyes)
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Headache
    If you or someone you know has any of these symptoms, call 911 right away. A stroke needs to be treated as soon as possible.
    Longer-lasting effects of the stroke may include problems with:
    • Movement on the right-side of the body
    • Speaking, understanding language, reading, and writing
    • Organizing, analyzing, reasoning, planning
    • Memory and learning
    • Completing tasks (difficulty doing activities, difficulty planning)
    • Short attention span
    • Vision (difficulty seeing out of the right field of vision)
    • Mental health (eg, depression , cautiousness, compulsive behavior, lack of motivation, frustration)

    Diagnosis

    The doctor will make a diagnosis as quickly as possible. Tests may include:
    • Exam of nervous system
    • Computed tomography (CT) scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the brain
    • CT angiogram—a type of CT scan that evaluates the blood vessels in the brain and/or neck
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of the brain
    • Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) —a type of MRI scan that evaluates the blood vessels in the brain and/or neck
    • Angiogram —a test that uses a catheter (tube) and x-ray machine to assess the heart and its blood supply
    • Heart function tests (eg, electrocardiogram , echocardiogram )
    • Doppler ultrasound —a test that uses sound waves to examine blood vessels
    • Blood tests
    • Tests to check the level of oxygen in the blood
    • Kidney and liver function tests
    • Tests to evaluate the ability to swallow

    Treatment

    Immediate treatment is needed to:
    • Dissolve or remove a clot causing an ischemic stroke
    • Stop the bleeding during a hemorrhagic stroke
    In some cases, oxygen therapy is needed.

    Medications

    Medicines may be given right away for an ischemic stroke to:
    • Dissolve clots and prevent new ones from forming
    • Thin blood
    • Control blood pressure
    • Reduce brain swelling
    • Treat an irregular heart rate
    For a hemorrhagic stroke, the doctor may give medicines to:
    • Work against any blood-thinning drugs that you may regularly take
    • Reduce how your brain reacts to bleeding
    • Control blood pressure
    • Prevent seizures

    Surgery

    For an ischemic stroke, procedures may be done to:
    For a hemorrhagic stroke, the doctor may:
    • Remove a piece of the skull to relieve pressure on the brain and remove the blood clot
    • Place a clip or tiny coil in the aneurysm to stop it from bleeding

    Rehabilitation

    A rehabilitation program focuses on:
    • Physical therapy—to regain as much movement as possible
    • Occupational therapy—to assist in everyday tasks and self-care
    • Speech therapy—to improve swallowing and speech challenges
    • Psychological therapy—to help adjust to life after the stroke

    Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of having a stroke, take the following steps:
    • Exercise regularly .
    • Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish.
    • Maintain a healthy weight.
    • Drink alcohol only in moderation (1-2 drinks per day).
    • If you smoke, quit .
    • If you have a chronic condition, like high blood pressure or diabetes, get proper treatment.
    • If recommended by your doctor, take a low-dose aspirin every day.
    • If you are at risk for having a stroke, talk to your doctor about statin medicines.

    RESOURCES

    American Heart Association http://www.americanheart.org/

    National Stroke Association http://www.stroke.org/

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://ww2.heartandstroke.ca/splash/

    Stroke SurvivorsAssociation of Ottawa http://www.strokesurvivors.ca/

    References

    Am I at risk for a stroke? National Stroke Association website. Available at: http://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=risk . Accessed April 22, 2011.

    Anatomy of the brain. The University Hospital website. Available at: http://www.theuniversityhospital.com/stroke/anatomy.htm . Accessed April 22, 2011.

    Effects of left middle cerebral artery stroke. Ohio State University Medical Center website. Available at: http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/PatientEd/Materials/PDFDocs/dis-cond/stroke/LeftMidCerebralArteryStroke.pdf . Accessed April 15, 2011.

    Effects of stroke. Magee Rehabilitation website. Available at: http://www.mageerehab.org/effects-of-stroke.php . Accessed April 22, 2011.

    Effects of stroke. National Stroke Association website. Available at: http://www.stroke.org/site/PageServer?pagename=EFFECT . Accessed April 22, 2011.

    Effects of stroke. Ohio State University Medical Center website. Available at: http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare%5Fservices/stroke/effects/Pages/index.aspx . Accessed April 22, 2011.

    Effects of stroke. Rush University Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.rush.edu/rumc/page-1098987413801.html . Accessed April 22, 2011.

    Prevention of stroke: recommendations. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ . Updated April 7, 2011. Accessed April 22, 2011.

    Stroke (acute management): treatment overview. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ . Updated April 11, 2011. Accessed April 22, 2011.

    Stroke and the brain. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/stroke/hic%5Fstroke%5Fand%5Fthe%5Fbrain.aspx . Accessed April 22, 2011.

    Stroke: causes. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stroke/DS00150/DSECTION=causes . Updated July 1, 2010. Accessed April 22, 2011.

    Stroke center. University of Chicago Medicine website. Available at: http://www.uchospitals.edu/specialties/neurology/stroke/ . Accessed April 19, 2012.

    Stroke effects. American Hear Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4761 . Accessed April 22, 2011.

    Stroke facts. St. John’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.st-johns.org/services/stroke%5Fcenter/stroke%5Ffacts.aspx . Accessed April 22, 2011.

    Stroke: treatments and drugs. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stroke/DS00150/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs . Accessed July 1, 2010. Accessed April 22, 2011.

    Types of stroke. NYU Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.med.nyu.edu/strokecenter/aboutstroke/types/ . Updated November 15, 2010. Accessed April 22, 2011.

    Wood D. Stroke. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/ . Updated March 28, 2011. Accessed April 22, 2011.

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