Stroke: Quick Action Saves Lives
There once was a time when the only treatment for strokes was to hope for the best. That’s changing, with increased awareness about the symptoms of stroke, progress in the emergency treatment of stroke, and the advent of clot-busting drugs that improve the outcome.
For the best chance for a good outcome, seek medical attention immediately. Learn these warning signs of stroke:
- Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm, and leg on one side of the body.
- Loss of speech, or trouble talking or understanding speech.
- Dimness or loss of vision, particularly in one eye.
- Unexplained dizziness, unsteadiness, or sudden falls, especially along with any of the previous symptoms.
- Severe headache with no known cause.doctor examining a series of brain scans
Sometimes, transient ischemic attacks (TIAs, or “temporary strokes”) can occur days, weeks, or even months before a major stroke. TIAs occur when a blood clot temporarily clogs an artery and prevents blood flow to the brain. A TIA has many of the same symptoms of a stroke, and the symptoms may last a few minutes to several hours. People who have TIAs are about 10 times more likely to have a stroke than those who don’t have them. Prompt medical attention to TIAs may prevent a truly disabling stroke later.
Stroke remains the third leading cause of death, but many lives are being saved, thanks to medical advances. Much of the credit is owed to a drug used to open arteries in heart attacks, called tissue plasminogen activator, or TPA. When given intravenously (through the veins) within three hours of stroke, TPA can prevent some strokes from becoming severe and disabling. The three-hour window of opportunity is important — underscoring the importance of getting to the hospital immediately if you suspect a stroke.
The Health Alliance has a world-renown resource, The Neuroscience Institute offering a variety of services–including the best stroke team in the area. Click here to learn more about The Center for Cerebrovascular Disease
SOURCE: American Heart Association, “What You Should Know About Stroke” and press release from American Stroke Association annual meeting, New Orleans, Feb 2000.
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