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Left Hemispheric Stroke

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

What is a left hemispheric stroke?

A stroke happens when blood cannot flow to your brain. A stroke caused by a blood clot is called an ischemic stroke. A stroke caused by a burst or torn blood vessel is called a hemorrhagic stroke. When stroke symptoms last a few minutes to hours and do not cause damage, it is called a transient ischemic attack (TIA). A TIA is a warning sign that you are at risk of soon having a stroke.


What are the signs and symptoms of a left hemispheric stroke?

The left hemisphere (side) of your brain controls the right side of your body. It also controls your speech and language abilities. You may have any of the following:

  • Trouble swallowing, walking, or remembering

  • Paralysis or weakness on the right side of your body

  • Falling toward your right side

  • Lack of awareness of the right side of your body

  • Trouble speaking, reading, writing, or understanding language

  • Changes in mood or the ability to pay attention or learn new information

What are the warning signs of a stroke?

The word F.A.S.T. can help you remember and recognize signs of a stroke:

  • F = Face: One side of the face droops.

  • A = Arms: One arm starts to drop when both arms are raised.

  • S = Speech: Speech is slurred or sounds different than usual.

  • T = Time: A person who is having a stroke needs to be seen immediately. A stroke is a medical emergency that needs immediate treatment. Some medicines and treatments work best if given within a few hours of a stroke.

What increases my risk for a left hemispheric stroke?

  • Age 55 or older

  • Being male or African American

  • Physical inactivity or obesity

  • High cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes

  • Smoking cigarettes or using illegal drugs such as cocaine

  • Chronic inflammatory disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus

  • A family history of stroke, or a low birthweight

  • A heart condition such as atrial fibrillation, myocardial infarction, or valve disease

  • Birth control pills or hormone replacement medicine (women)

  • Current pregnancy, or delivery within the past 6 weeks

How is a left hemispheric stroke diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and when they started. He will look for signs that show which part of your brain was injured. You may need any of the following:

  • CT or MRI pictures may show where the stroke happened and any damage to your brain. You may be given contrast liquid to help your skull and brain show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.

  • An arteriography is used to take x-rays of your arteries to look for blood flow blockage.

  • A carotid ultrasound may show narrow or blocked carotid arteries. The carotid arteries are blood vessels in your neck that carry blood to your brain.

How is a left hemispheric stroke treated?

  • Medicines may help improve your blood's ability to clot and stop the bleeding. You may instead need medicine to break up blood clots, or to prevent them from forming. The type of medicine you receive depends on what is causing your stroke. You may also need medicine for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.

  • Thrombolysis is a procedure used to break apart clots in an artery. A catheter is guided into the artery until it is near the clot. Medicine is put through the catheter that will help break apart the clot. The clot may be pulled out of the artery during the procedure.

  • Surgery may be used to remove a blood clot or to relieve pressure within your brain. You may also need surgery to remove plaque buildup from your carotid arteries.

What is rehabilitation (rehab)?

Rehab is an important part of treatment. A speech therapist helps you relearn or improve your ability to talk and swallow. You may start slowly and start doing more difficult tasks over time. Physical therapists can help you gain strength and build endurance. Occupational therapists teach you new ways to do daily activities, such as getting dressed. Therapy can help you improve your ability to walk or keep your balance. Your therapy may include tasks or movements you will need to do for everyday activities. An example is being able to raise or lower yourself from a chair.

How can I decrease my risk for a stroke?

  • Do not smoke cigarettes or use illegal drugs. Smoking and drugs increase your risk for a stroke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause blood vessel damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.

  • Limit or do not drink alcohol. Heavy alcohol use or drinking binges increase your risk for any type of stroke. Limit alcohol to 2 drinks per day if you are a man. Limit alcohol to 1 drink per day if you are a woman. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.

  • Manage health conditions. Take your medicine as directed. Check your blood pressure and blood sugar levels as directed. Keep a record and bring it to your follow-up visits. Control your blood sugar level if you have hyperglycemia or diabetes.



  • Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Choose foods that are low in fat, cholesterol, salt, and sugar. Eat foods that are high in potassium, such as potatoes and bananas.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight. Ask about the best exercise plan for you.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have any of the following signs of a stroke:

    • Numbness or drooping on one side of your face

    • Weakness in an arm or leg

    • Confusion or difficulty speaking

    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss

  • You have a seizure.

  • You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.

  • You cough up blood.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

  • You have trouble swallowing.

  • Your blood pressure or blood sugar level is higher or lower than you were told it should be.

  • You have unusual or heavy bleeding.

  • You fall.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have trouble having a bowel movement or urinating.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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