Cigarette smoking is one of the most significant risk factors for stroke
Nearly 800,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke each year. Most are “ischemic,” caused by a blockage of blood flow in the brain, and about 10% are “hemorrhagic,” occurring when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or leaks.
A stroke results in the interruption of blood flow in an area of the brain which causes the brain tissue to die from a lack of oxygen and nutrients.
After an acute stroke, SPECT depicts the area of the stroke with greater accuracy than either CT or MRI. On SPECT, a stroke appears as an area of significantly decreased or absent activity (blood flow) in the brain. SPECT is often helpful in the evaluation and management of cerebral vascular disease, which is an underlying cause of stroke.
Case Study: Left-sided Stroke
One day at age 63, Ellen was suddenly paralyzed on the right side of her body. Unable to even speak, she was in a panic and her family was extremely concerned. As drastic as these symptoms were, two hours after the event her CT scan was normal. Suspecting a stroke, the emergency room physician ordered a brain SPECT study. It showed an absence of activity in the left frontal and temporal lobes caused by a clot that had choked off the blood supply to these parts of her brain.
From this information, it was clear that a stroke had occurred and her doctors were able to take measures to limit the extent of the damage. Ellen was a cigarette smoker; smoking is a risk factor for stroke.
Case Study: Right-sided Stroke
Sarah, 15-year-old female born with viral encephalitis, which caused severe decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex and temporal lobes.