Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Strokes - Signs To Recognize That Could Save Someone's Life

Signs of a stroke can be missed.  After reading the following, maybe your own life or the life of someone you know will be saved by paying more attention to the warning signs.

Here is a typical sad story (sent to me by a friend) of a stroke that went unrecognized:

"During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics).  She said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes.  They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food.  While she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening.

Jane's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00 PM Jane passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ.  Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Jane would be with us today." 

First of all what is a stroke?  A stroke is a blood clot or other blockage in an artery that keeps blood from reaching the brain. About 80% of strokes are caused by blood clots.  If a blood vessel bursts, it is called a hemorrhagic stroke. When blood, and the crucial nutrients and oxygen it carries, can't reach the brain, brain cells can quickly die, leaving permanent damage.

What are the warning signs of a stroke?  The most common warning signs of a stroke include the following:

  1. Visual problems like a sudden change in vision or sudden double vision.
  2. Numbness of the face, weak arms or legs, weakness on one side of the body.
  3. Disorientation, problems with speech (e.g., slurred speech), and/or trouble understanding others.
  4. Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  5. Painful headache that comes on suddenly and have no known cause.
A neurologist has a much greater chance of reversing the effects of a stroke caused by a blood clot the sooner he/she can get to a stroke victim.  The trick is getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within the first few hours.

If a person does not recognize the signs of a stroke in themselves, a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions.  The 3 questions are based on the first 3 letters of the word STROKE as follow:

S - ask the individual to SMILE.

T - ask the person to TALK and speak a simple sentence coherently (i.e. It is sunny out today).

R - ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

If he or she has trouble with any ONE of these tasks, call 911 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

NOTE: Another sign of a stroke is this: Ask the person to stick out his tongue. If the tongue is crooked or if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke.

Hopefully, this does not happen to us or anyone we know. Doing our best to prevent a stroke or heart attack is, of course, preferable. Exercising (with your physician's approval), cutting down or cutting out red meat, sugar (including artificial sweeteners), alcohol, hydrogenated fats, and processed foods. And if you smoke, stop. I will be blogging more on tips to stay healthy in future blogs and include recipes from time to time.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to comment. I will answer all questions except spam.


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