It takes just seconds for brain cells to die from a stroke. But that's what happens every year to over 700,000 men and women who overlook the symptoms of a stroke.
Early recognition of stroke symptoms and prompt medical attention could save your life. Stroke symptoms include:
- Numbness, weakness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg - especially on one side of the body
- Sudden blurred or decreased vision in one or both eyes
- Difficulty speaking or understanding simple statements
- Dizziness, loss of balance or decreased coordination, especially when combined with other symptoms
Other important, but less common warning signs include:
- Sudden, unexplainable and intense headaches, often described as "the worst headache ever" and "totally unlike a regular headache"
- Brief loss of consciousness or period of decreased awareness (fainting, confusion, convulsions or a coma)
- Sudden nausea, fever and vomiting with other stroke symptoms.
Remember, these symptoms may be present briefly or come and go. Ignoring these symptoms could prove harmful. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of these symptoms. Call your doctor, go to the nearest emergency department or call 911. Never ignore stroke symptoms under any circumstances.
Getting emergency medical attention is extremely important for two reasons:
- Only a doctor can tell for sure if you are having a stroke or transient ischemic attack. If you are experiencing a stroke, emergency medical treatment could save your life and greatly improve your chances of recovery. If you are having a TIA, your doctor will evaluate and treat the underlying causes. Following your doctor's orders and recommendations can help reduce your risk of having a stroke in the future.
- Stroke-related brain damage gets worse the longer the stroke remains untreated. Several drugs currently in the testing phase offer physicians the means to stop, and even reverse, this brain damage when administered immediately after a stroke occurs.
The information above was obtained through the National Stroke Association/Syntex educational grant.