Randy Travis Update: Suffers Stroke, Viral Heart Condition

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A stroke can be caused by a blockage in the brain's arteries as seen here. Image by Blausen Medical Communications, Inc.

A stroke can be caused by a blockage in the brain’s arteries as seen here. Image by Blausen Medical Communications, Inc.

Ischemic Strokes

The symptoms that a person is or isn’t having can also give doctors clues as to what kind of stroke he or she is having.

There are two types of strokes; ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke. An ischemic stroke is the most common, and is caused by a blood clot in your arteries that blocks the blood flow to the brain.

There are two types of ischemic strokes; thrombotic and embolic.

  • Thrombotic is caused by plaque (fatty build-up) in the arteries that reduces the amount of blood flow to the brain.
  • An embolic stroke occurs when when a blood clot or other debris forms away from the brain, generally in the heart and goes through your bloodstream where it can become lodged in the narrow arteries of the brain, causing a blockage.

Hemorrhagic Strokes

Hemorrhagic strokes occur when the blood vessel in your brain leaks or ruptures; these brain hemorrhages can be caused by high blood pressure and weak spots in the blood vessels called aneurysms.

There are also two types of hemorrhagic strokes; intracerebral and subarachnoid.

  • Intracerebral hemorrhages occur when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and spills into the brain tissue. High blood pressure, trauma, and blood-thinning medications can cause these types of strokes.
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhages occur in an artery on or near the surface of the brain and bursts, spilling blood between the brain and skull.

Transient Ischemic Attacks

There are also “mini strokes” called transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) occur when the blood vessels in the brain breaks and bleeds into the brain. These “mini-strokes” occurs when the blood supply is cut off for a short amount of time.

TIAs can cause symptoms, such as numbness, trouble speaking, and loss of balance that may only last a few minutes to 24 hours and then disappear. TIAs generally do not cause any serious permanent damage, but should be taken seriously as it can be a sign of a possible larger stroke called a ischemic stroke.

Stroke Response: F.A.S.T.

An aneurysem, pictured above is the balloon-shaped area on the brain. Image by: Lucien Monfils

An aneurysem, pictured above is the balloon-shaped area on the brain. Image by: Lucien Monfils

If you think someone maybe having a stroke, use the acronyme, F.A.S.T. to assess the situation. The “F” stands for face, ask the person to smile, does one side of their mouth droop? The “A” stands for arms, ask the person to lift both arms up, does one arm begin to fall? The “S” stands for speech, ask the person to repeat a simple phrase and note if their speech sounds slurred. The “T” stands for time, if you observe any of these call 911 immediately, since minutes count when treating a stroke.

Stroke Recovery Outlook

The course of treatment and outlook depend on the type of the stroke; medications and surgery may be needed to repair the damage.

Rehabilitation such as physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy will help the patient regain strength and function as much as possible. It is unclear as to what type of stroke Randy Travis had, but rehabilitation will most likely be part of his long term treatment plan.

Resources:

CBS News. Publicist: Randy Travis Suffers Stroke in Hospital. July 10, 2013. Accessed July 11, 2013.

Mayo Clinic. Stroke. July 3, 2012. Accessed July 11, 2013.

National Stroke Association. Explaining Stroke. Accessed July 11, 2013.

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