By Sylvia Booth Hubbard
Friday, July 6, 2012
Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Internet Stroke Center. Every year, about 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke, and more than 140,000 die from stroke. It’s also the leading cause of long-term disability.
Although strokes are associated with aging — in fact three-fourths of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65 — they can strike at any age.
People who suffer a stroke often don’t recognize the symptoms and signs which makes it difficult for them to get rapid, effective treatment.
"People who don’t know what a stroke is may lie down to sleep thinking it will get better or avoid calling [the emergency telephone number] because of the concern that an ambulance is too expensive," said Dr. Cheryl Bushnell, associate professor of neurology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. "However, doing either one of these things right after the onset of stroke symptoms will delay treatment.
"Recognizing the symptoms and signs is critical in order to receive treatment in the window of three to four and a half hours."
A stroke is the sudden death of a portion of brain cells due to the lack of oxygen due to blood flow to the brain becoming blocked or damaged. Symptoms can vary depending on what causes the stroke — either a blood clot (ischemic stroke) or bleeding (hemorrhagic), exactly where in the brain the stroke occurs, and its severity.
Stroke is a true medical emergency, and there are signs and symptoms that you need to know in order to save your own life and the lives of others.
Bushnell suggests that everyone know the following signs of a stroke and what to do if someone is experiencing a stroke.
Stroke signs and symptoms:
• One side of the face is weak, numb or paralyzed
• Inability to speak or understand clearly
• Blurred vision or loss of vision
• Dizziness or loss of balance
• A sudden and severe headache
If you suspect someone is having a stroke, remember the FAST acronym:
• FACE: Ask the person to smile, and see if one side of their face droops.
• ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms to See if one arm drifts downward.
• SPEECH: Listen to see if their speech is slurred or strange.
• TIME: Every minute counts. If the individual is having difficulty with any of these tasks, call [the emergency telephone number] immediately.
If you are evaluated for stroke, you may undergo blood tests, such as a CBC (complete blood count), coagulation tests (such as prothrombin time to see how quickly your blood clots), blood chemistry tests (such as glucose), and blood lipid tests to measure your cholesterol. You may also specialized tests such as a CT scan or MRI that show images of the brain in order to diagnose stroke.
Don’t ever assume that a symptom is unimportant if it goes away on its own. Always consult with your doctor, and never try to make a diagnosis by yourself.
Copyright © 2012 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
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