Three Methods of Screening for Stroke Risk
- Posted on: Mar 30 2018
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 800,000 Americans experience some stroke each year. A large majority of incidents are first-time patients. Furthermore, approximately 130,000 deaths each year, and even more disabilities are attributed to stroke.
Most strokes that occur relate to a narrowing or blockage in blood vessels either in the brain or that feed the brain. This is referred to as an ischemic stroke. About 15% of strokes relate to leaking or burst blood vessel in the brain, referred to as a hemorrhagic stroke. In either situation, the oxygen deprivation that results can rapidly cause neuron death in the brain.
An Eye on Prevention
In recent years, studies have continually observed stroke cases to identify risk factors and potential steps for prevention. It is now widely understood by healthcare practitioners that conditions like heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, and family history increase a person’s risk of having a stroke. As a method of prevention, we are encouraged to exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, limit sodium intake, and fill our plates with healthy, fresh foods. Physicians may also recommend stroke screening for individuals with family history factors or other risks. Three common screening methods include:
- 3T MRI. The 3T or 3 Tesla MRI is a non-invasive imaging test that can evaluate the condition of blood vessels in the brain. This technology harnesses a higher field strength and is, therefore, able to obtain finite details of the vessels in question. In addition to providing greater accuracy, the 3T MRI does so in less time than other MRI scanners. The 3T MRI is valuable in the identification of plaque buildup in vessels, an underlying stroke mechanism, and the severity of those plaques.
- Carotid Artery Ultrasound. This common method of carotid screening observes this vital artery for plaque accumulation. The carotid arteries are the primary suppliers of blood to the brain. One resides on each side of the neck. Ultrasound enables us to observe the inside of these arteries for narrowing and others indications of stroke risk. During this screening, we can see and measure blood flow and also measure the diameter of the arteries.
- Carotid Artery MRI. In recent years, studies have observed the value of MRI in the observation of more suspicious arterial plaques – meaning, those that could be more likely to lead to stroke.
There are several ways to evaluate stroke risk, including special imaging. For more information on our radiology services, call our Houston or Humble office.
Posted in: MRI