The 84 year old actress, who has been dealing with the tragic loss of her daughter, Carrie Fisher, was taken by ambulance to the hospital for possible “stroke”.
According to TMZ, Ms. Reynolds was at her son’s house, Todd, planning funeral arrangements for Carrie when around 1:00 pm Wednesday afternoon, the paramedics were called.
We learned she passed away Wednesday.
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when an area of the brain does not get the proper oxygen and blood flow it needs. There are two major types of stroke. Ischemic and Hemorrhagic.
Ischemic strokes are more common than the latter and occur when a clot prevents blood flow to part of the brain. 80% of all strokes fall under ischemic. It is a likened to a heart attack, except the brain tissue is being deprived of blood and nutrients. Plaques commonly arise from arteriosclerosis that break off travel to the smaller vessels of the brain.
Hemorrhagic strokes are less common and occur when there is a bleed of one of the brain vessels. The bleed prevents blood flow into the brain since it is seeping outside the brain tissue, causing damage to nearby cells. The bleeds could occur from high blood pressure or aneurysms that rupture.
What are the signs of a stroke?
Since a clot or bleed usually affect one area of the brain, we see symptoms on one side of the body, many times its contralateral (opposite) side. We can also see central effects. The symptoms of stroke include the following:
Weakness of one side of the body
Loss of balance
Numbness on one side of the body
How are strokes treated?
If the stroke was caused by a clot (ischemic) immediate treatment includes dissolving/removing the clot. Aspirin is used initially and if within the proper time frame, tissue plasminogen activator (TPA). These clots can also be surgically removed and arteries widened to bring blood flow to the brain.
With a hemorrhagic stroke, we need to stop the bleed and improve flow to the brain. Controlling the bleed, bypassing the vessel, “clogging” the aneurysm with techniques such as “coiling” (endovascular embolization) are sometimes utlized.
Time is of the essence, so its crucial to identify the warning signs and call 911 immediately. The American Stroke Association uses the acronym “FAST” (Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, and Time to call 911). The sooner a stroke victim receives medical attention the better the prognosis.
Courtesy of the American Stroke Association
What are the risk factors for stroke?
The following put us at risk of having a stroke.
High blood pressure
Family history of stroke
Cardiovascular disease (artery clogging, such as the heart and carotid arteries)
Abnormal heart rhythms, such as atrial fibrillation
Being older (greater than 55)
African Americans appear to be more at risk than Caucasians and Hispanics
Men seem to be more affected than women
I would also like to add extreme stress. With Debbie Reynold’s losing her daughter this week from a heart attack, its not shocking that the stress could take its toll on such a loving mother.
How do we prevent strokes?
Avoid the following:
Control blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol
Get evaluated by a medical provider if at risk for heart disease or stroke.