Understanding The Common Causes Of Strokes

Strokes are one of the most common illnesses impacting older adults and result in thousands of deaths each year. Sadly, many strokes are preventable. Understanding common stroke risk factors can help you make informed decisions about your lifestyle to prevent strokes.
This is part of a series of blogs discussing stroke awareness presented by VSCP LAW.

What Is A Stroke?

A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, happens when the blood supply to your brain is interrupted or reduced. With a lack of oxygen to the brain, brain tissue cannot get the necessary oxygen and nutrients to survive and repair itself.  As a result, strokes can lead to brain damage, disability, and even death.

What Are Common Causes Of Strokes?

Generally, there are two leading causes of strokes: blocked arteries or burst blood vessels. However, doctors may classify a stroke as one of three different types.

  1. Ischemic Stroke. This is the most common type of stroke. When the brain’s blood vessels become narrowed or blocked, the blockage results in reduced blood flow (“ischemia”) to the brain.
  2. Hemorrhagic Stroke. This occurs when a blood vessel in your brain leaks or ruptures. The blood continues to increase and ultimately compresses the surrounding brain tissue. Hemorrhagic strokes occur either within the brain (intracerebral) or in the space between your brain and the surrounding membrane (subarachnoid).
  3. Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). Sometimes referred to as a mini-stroke, a TIA occurs when there is blocked blood flow to the brain for a short time (usually less than five minutes). TIAs present with the same warning signs as an ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke, so it’s imperative to seek immediate medical attention if those warning signs are present. 

Common Stroke Risk Factors

Strokes are diverse, and several different risk factors may cause a stroke. Common stroke risk factors include:

Can I Lower My Stroke Risk Factors?

Although not all strokes are preventable, you can attempt to reduce your risk of stroke.
Simple lifestyle changes may mitigate and eliminate a majority of the common causes of stroke in your life. These changes include:

What Medications Can I Take To Prevent Stroke?

If you’ve had a TIA or are at high risk of stroke due to health complications, your doctor may prescribe you medication to reduce the chance of suffering a stroke. Those include:

Cholesterol-lowering medications. High cholesterol can lead to fatty build-up in the artery walls that narrows or blocks the artery to the brain, which is one of the common causes of stroke. Statins are an example of cholesterol-lowering medicine.

Anti-hypertensives. High blood pressure is one of the most significant stroke risk factors. If your blood pressure is too high, your arteries can thicken over time. They become weaker, less flexible, and then become more prone to blood clots.

Antiplatelet drugs. Platelets are cells in your blood that form blood clots. Antiplatelet drugs make these cells less sticky and therefore less likely to clot. Aspirin is an example of an antiplatelet drug.

Anticoagulants. These drugs thin out the blood and reduce blood clotting.

If you believe a loved one has suffered a stroke resulting from a health care provider’s actions or inactions, contact VSCP LAW at www.vscplaw.com.

Could my child’s birth injury have been caused by medical malpractice at the hospital in Philadelphia where he/she was born?

If your child was injured during childbirth, the Philadelphia hospital where you delivered could be to blame. Read on to determine whether your child’s birth injury might have resulted from medical malpractice during your labor and delivery or prenatal care.

What is Medical Malpractice in the Birth Injury Context?

If you or your child have been injured because of what a doctor has done (or has failed to do), then you may have a valid medical malpractice lawsuit. Medical malpractice lawsuits often arise out of negligence that occurred during labor and delivery and causes a birth injury to the baby.  If the negligence of a hospital, doctor, nurse, or any health care professional caused you or your child to suffer an injury related to their improper treatment, then you may have a Philadelphia medical malpractice lawsuit.  Families of children who suffer from preventable birth injuries will often have tremendous ongoing costs for the injured child’s medical care and other special needs.  The goal of a birth injury case is to recover compensation to ensure that these families/children have access to top-notch medical care and therapies in order to ensure the best quality of life and outcome for their condition.

What are the common medical conditions that occur during childbirth and can result in a birth injury to your baby?

Below is a list of some of the medical complications that can occur during childbirth and, if not properly managed by your hospital and medical providers, can result in your child developing a severe or even fatal birth injury.  A recurring theme in birth injury lawsuits is the failure of the hospital or medical provider to recognize the sign and symptoms of these harmful conditions (i.e. vaginal bleeding, distress seen on fetal monitoring strips) and further failing to immediately move towards delivery, such as an emergency c-section.  Unfortunately, many times there is a delay in appreciating these conditions by medical providers and resulting delay in delivery, resulting in severe and permanent injuries to the baby.

Placental Abruption

The placenta is a temporary organ that develops during pregnancy. Placental abruption happens when the placenta separates from the uterine wall before the baby is delivered. When this happens, the baby could lose vital nutrients and oxygen. Placental abruption is dangerous for the mother and the baby and this condition must be quickly identified and delivery must be accomplished as soon as possible for the health of the baby.  Oftentimes malpractice occurs when there is a delay in diagnosing the placental abruption and/or delay in ensuring the baby is delivered as quickly as possible once the placental abruption is recognized by the health care time.

Uterine Rupture

Uterine rupture can occur during vaginal childbirth. It happens when the uterus tears, which can allow the baby to slip into the mother’s abdomen. Uterine rupture can lead to severe bleeding for the mother and suffocation for the baby.  This is another condition that requires quick diagnosis and prompt action to deliver the baby in order to prevent severe complications.

Umbilical Cord Prolapse

The umbilical cord is a tube-like structure that connects the fetus to the mother during pregnancy. It is often called the baby’s “lifeline” because it carries nutrients and oxygen to the baby and carries away the baby’s waste. Before or during childbirth, the umbilical cord can drop through the open cervix into the vagina before the baby is delivered. This dangerous complication is called umbilical cord prolapse and could cause a loss of oxygen for the baby if not managed properly by your doctors. This is why signs and symptoms of umbilical cord prolapse must be promptly identified by your medical provider and proper steps taken to deliver the baby expeditiously to avoid severe injury.

Nuchal Cord

Nuchal cord occurs when the umbilical cord wraps around the baby’s neck. This can happen during pregnancy, labor, or childbirth. Nuchal cord is dangerous because it can obstruct the blood and oxygen flow to the baby.  During labor, the baby may show signs of distress and may suffer from a lack of oxygen.  For this reason, signs of a potential nuchal cord must be identified by your doctors in a timely fashion to prevent any injuries to the baby.

Meconium Aspiration

Meconium is a tar-like substance that is created by the baby, at first in the womb. It’s known as the “baby’s first stool.” Meconium aspiration often occurs when the baby is stressed during labor and breathes in meconium and amniotic fluid. Meconium aspiration can cause significant health problems and if it is left untreated, it could cause permanent injuries or be fatal to the baby.  Babies that suffer meconium aspiration must be delivered promptly so they can be treated and resuscitated by medical providers.

Chorioamnionitis (Intrauterine Infection)

The “chorion” is the outer membrane and the “amnion” is the fluid-filled sac surrounding the fetus. Chorioamnionitis is a serious infection that occurs when bacteria infect the chorion, amnion, and amniotic fluid around the baby. This infection can afflict the mother and the baby, and cause premature birth. If left untreated or improperly treated, the mother and baby could develop serious complications including sepsis, respiratory problems, and other permanent injuries to the baby.

Cervical Insufficiency/Shortened Cervis/Incompetent Cervis

The cervix is the opening at the lower part of the womb/uterus. Cervical insufficiency is when a woman’s cervix opens too early in the pregnancy process. This can cause premature birth, serious and permanent injuries to the baby, or even a miscarriage.  These conditions should be closely monitored with ultrasounds and routine check-ups.  Additionally, these cervical issues may potentially require medications or surgical interventions like a cerclage (stitch in the cervix) to prolong pregnancy.  If your medical provider fails to properly manage your cervical issues during pregnancy and this leads to a premature delivery with associated complications, then you may have a legal claim for your child’s injuries and deficits.

What should I do if I suspect that my child suffered injuries at birth due to the fault of the hospital?

If you believe your child’s birth injury in Philadelphia might have resulted from medical malpractice, contact the Philadelphia birth injury lawyers at VSCP LAW today for a free case evaluation at (215) 960-0000 or toll-free at 1 (888) 880-VSCP. We are available 24/7 and have a team of medical experts available to review your case.    The birth injury lawyers at VSCP LAW have assisted in recovering hundreds of millions of dollars for children and families in birth injury litigation throughout Pennsylvania and specifically in Philadelphia.  We will fight to hold the medical providers responsible for their negligent conduct that caused your child’s birth injury and ensures you get the necessary compensation for your child’s ongoing medical care and needs.