Many people know all the symptoms of a heart attack but what about a stroke? A recent research study showed that 70 percent of those who suffer a minor stroke or transient ischemic attack do not recognize their symptoms and 30 percent didn’t seek medical for over 24 hours! Even worse, those episodes that happened over a weekend caused even longer delay as sufferers waited for their healthcare provider’s office to open on Monday or hope the symptoms would resolve.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death in America and the leading cause of adult disability. It occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery going to the brain and then brain cells begin to die causing damage. Some risk factors for stroke are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, alcohol use, obesity, sedative lifestyle, tobacco use and family history.
Symptoms include sudden numbness, paralysis, or weakness in your arms, face, or leg (especially one-sided). Sudden problems with walking or balance, vision changes, drooling or slurred speech, and recent confusion are also symptoms. These can last minutes to days and it is very important to seek medical attention immediately. Do not wait.
A transient ischemic attack (also called a ‘mini-stroke) occurs when there is a change in the blood supply to an area of the brain. This causes symptoms that last less than 24 hours. Depending on the area of the brain involved, you may experience temporary loss of vision, altered/slurred speech, weakness, numbness or tingling on one side of the body. These are all very similar to that of a stroke.
With a stroke or transient ischemic attack, your healthcare provider will do a thorough medical history and order necessary imaging such as a CT scan or MRI scan of the brain, ultrasound of the neck, and possibly heart workup. Many who experience an ischemic attack often go on to experience more or even worse, have a full stroke.
Make sure you and your loved ones understand the symptoms of a stroke or ischemic attack and seek medical help immediately.