Stroke Specialist

Donald Cedric Wallerson, MD

Cardiologist located in Bronx, NY

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. and worldwide, often occurring without any telltale symptoms. At his practice in The Bronx, NY, Dr. Donald Wallerson uses state-of-the-art techniques to identify patients at risk for stroke, including stroke screening, so patients can take steps to reduce those risks.

Stroke Q & A

What causes strokes?

Strokes occur when the blood flow to or inside the brain is interrupted or disrupted. Many strokes occur when plaque deposits or clots inside arteries prevent blood from reaching areas of the brain, resulting in a lack of oxygen that can destroy some of the brain tissue. Other strokes occur when blood vessels inside the brain burst and allow blood to leak into the brain. Some people have tiny strokes called transient ischemia that occur when very small blood vessels burst. All these issues decrease blood flow to the brain, and some strokes also cause significant pain or headaches. Depending on where the stroke occurs, it can affect speech, movement or other functions. Without emergency treatment, a stroke can cause permanent loss of function and brain damage. Stroke is a leading cause of death worldwide as well as a leading cause of disability.

What risk factors are associated with stroke?

Strokes have been linked with several risk factors, including:

  • atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeats)
  • carotid artery disease
  • high cholesterol
  • smoking
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • family history of stroke of cardiovascular disease

Patients with transient ischemia are also more likely to have a major stroke as well as future transient ischemic “attacks” (TIAs) or “mini-strokes.”

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation (also called Afib) is a condition caused by an irregular heartbeat which in turn is caused by aberrations in the electrical signals in the heart. Afib can cause clot formation, and these clots can cause strokes. Afib requires ongoing management to reduce the risk of strokes.

What can I do to prevent a stroke?

The risks of stroke may be reduced by quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet low in unhealthy fats and sodium, losing excess weight, quitting smoking and leading a more active lifestyle. Many patients will benefit from stroke screening, a series of assessments that help determine a patient’s risk factors for stroke so they can be treated. Screening may include blood pressure evaluations, blood tests, electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, stress testing or use of a Holter monitor or event monitor to assess the heart’s electrical activity over the course of a day or longer. Once risk factors have been identified, preventive care can be customized to the needs of the patient.