It’s the third leading cause of death in America, and often can occur with no warning. However, if patients and their family and friends react rapidly when a stroke does occur, the patient can have a much better outcome. While stroke continues to be a major public health issue, popular and political culture have turned a fine eye to the topic in recent weeks, with rocker and reality star Bret Michaels and Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden both suffering strokes.
“Time is of the essence when it comes to recognizing the symptoms of stroke,” said Mark J. Alberts, MD, director of the stroke program at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “They require urgent treatment to prevent even more serious damage to the brain.” For the most common type of stroke, a clot-bursting drug can reduce long-term disability if given within three hours of the initial stroke symptoms.
Alberts also called attention to transient ischemic attacks, or “mini-strokes.” “These produce stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage, and the symptoms might only last a few minutes,” said Alberts. He added that recognizing and treating mini-strokes can reduce the risk of a major stroke.
Alberts said to seek immediate medical care if you or someone you know has one or more of these warning signs:
· Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
· Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
· Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
· Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
· Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
Northwestern Memorial Hospital is a certified Primary Stroke Center through The Joint Commission. Northwestern Memorial Hospital also meets or exceeds all of the requirements of a Comprehensive Stroke Center.
To learn more about Northwestern Memorial’s stroke program or to schedule an appointment, call 312-926-8400.