Your General Health: Stroke—How to See the Signs

Would you recognize a stroke if it bit you? Would you dismiss the symptoms as nausea? Or wait for the “discomfort” to pass?

Among the 550,000 Americans who suffer stroke each year, maybe 150,000 are doomed outright, and the balance lead very changed lives. Minimizing risk in the first place is the best lifestyle move you can make. But awareness of symptoms is your second best line of defense. Commit these signs of stroke to memory. Tape them to the refrigerator, on the medicine cabinet, wherever. Even if the symptom subsides, call 911.

As brain cells literally die, the damage is done. But help—right away—can stop stroke in its tracks, even reverse the havoc. Treating strokes within 90 minutes improves outcome significantly, researchers find. Patients are much less likely to have lasting disability. Miracle drugs make this possible. An IV injection of recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) — also called alteplase (Activase) or tenecteplase (TNKase) — is the gold standard treatment for ischemic stroke. An injection of TPA is usually given through a vein in the arm within the first three hours. Bottom line, even if you are uncertain if you are having a stroke, getting to an emergency medical facility and evaluated right away can make a world of difference. ■

Signs You May Be Having a Stroke

  1. Weakness, numbness, or paralysis of the face, arm or leg, especially if isolated on one side of the body.
  2. Suddenly blurred or interrupted vision in one or both eyes.
  3. Onset of speech difficulties or trouble in comprehending simple statements.
  4. Dizziness, loss of balance or coordination. Take this symptom seriously.
  5. The worst headache you’ve ever had. Stroke is simple: no oxygen to the brain.

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