Airdate: Feb 11, 2016
Scientist: Michelle Theus
Strokes - Surviving
Why is it that some patients are able to survive a stroke and others are not?
Surviving StrokesTheus: A stroke, very simply put, is a blockage of one of your major arteries in your brain, most likely in the middle cerebral artery, which is the main branch that comes up from inside your brain.Why is it that some patients are able to survive a stroke and others are not? I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Theus: And we would hope that other branches that connect to that main tree could provide restoration of blood flow to the main branch to help the tissue kind of recover.Dr. Michelle Theus is an assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.Theus: When you have a stroke, the brain tissue is starved of nutrients and oxygen, which the blood vessels normally supply. When those blood vessels become blocked, oxygen, glucose - things like that, are no longer available for neural activity to occur. Without glucose and oxygen our brains and neurons begin dying. Patients can go unconscious or go into a coma. But ultimately the neurons that die are unable to provide important body functions, such as arm movement or leg movement. So patients can become paralyzed as one consequence of stroke. The focus of my research is to understand how the blood vessels that become blocked in the brain are able to repair after this blockage of the vessel. This blockage in some patients allows other aspects of the blood vessels to become active. So we can reroute blood flow from a different branch or tree branch of a blood vessel. You can think of them as a bridge between two roads. If one road becomes congested with traffic, you're able to bypass that road through different route.It's this re-routing of the blood flow that can help damaged brain tissue heal. We'll hear more about surviving strokes in future programs. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.