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Controllable Risks – Circulation Problems

Ask your healthcare professional if you have circulation problems that increase your risk for stroke.

Strokes can be caused by problems with your heart (pump), arteries and veins (tubes) or the blood which flows through them. Together, they are your circulation – the movement of the blood through the heart and blood vessels. Your healthcare professional can check to see whether you have problems in the circulation supplying blood to your brain.

Fatty deposits – caused by atherosclerosis (a hardening or buildup of cholesterol plaque and other fatty deposits in the arteries) or other diseases – can block the arteries that carry blood from your heart to your brain. These arteries, located on each side of your neck, are called carotid and vertebral arteries.

This kind of blockage, if left untreated, can cause stroke.

You can be tested for this problem by your healthcare professional. Your healthcare professional can listen to your arteries just as s/he listens to your heart, or they can look at x-rays called ultrasounds or magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs).

If you have blood problems such as sickle cell disease, severe anemia (lower than normal number of red blood cells) or other diseases, work with your healthcare professional to manage these problems. Left untreated, these can cause stroke.

Circulation problems can usually be treated with medicines. If your healthcare professional prescribes aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin®), ticlopidine (Ticlid®), clopidogrel (Plavix®), dipyridamole (Aggrenox®) or other medicine for circulation problems, take it exactly as prescribed.

Occasionally, surgery is necessary to correct circulation problems such as a blocked artery.


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