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Signs of Stroke You Might Be Ignoring

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 04:22 AM

Am I Having a Stroke? 7 Signs of Stroke You Might Be Ignoring


Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death nationwide. Brain damage from strokes can be

minimised if they are treated promptly, but it’s common to mistake signs of a stroke for other health problems,

which delays treatment. Never ignore these signs of a stroke.


In each minute of a stroke, your brain loses an estimated 1.9 million cells. Each hour a stroke goes untreated

ages your brain the equivalent of three and a half years. The longer a stroke lasts or a patient doesn’t receive

treatment, the greater chance of lingering speech difficulties, memory loss, or behavioural changes.

The earlier a stroke is caught, the better the treatment options, which can minimise damage and improve

the odds of a fuller recovery. “Stroke is scary. Denial is the biggest factor in delaying treatment.


When I ask stroke patients in the ER why they waited to call 911, the most common response is that they

wanted to see if it would go away,” says Carolyn Brockington, MD, director of the Mount Sinai Stroke

Centre in New York City. There are two kinds of stroke. An ischaemic stroke means blocked blood vessels

cause a reduction in blood flow in the brain. A haemorrhagic stroke means a ruptured blood vessel is leaking

blood in the brain. Symptoms for both kinds of stroke can be the same. It’s important to call 911 as soon as

you notice any potential signs of trouble.


You think exhaustion is making you see double

Vision problems like seeing double, blurriness, or loss of sight in one eye can be a sign of a stroke, but many

people blame this on old age or tiredness. “Seeing two images is very unusual for just being tired or reading

too much,” Dr. Brockington says. A blocked blood vessel can reduce the amount of oxygen getting to the eye,

which causes vision issues that may not be accompanied by any other signs of stroke.


You think your arm is numb because it "just fell asleep"

If you wake up from a nap and your arm or leg is numb, it’s easy to assume it's due to a compressed nerve.

“Don’t feel like a hypochondriac. If your arm is suddenly numb or weak, and it doesn’t go away in a few minutes,

call 911,” says Ralph Sacco, MD, professor of neurology at University of Miami North School of Medicine.

Decreased blood flow through the arteries that run up your spine to the back of your head causes numbness

or weakness on one side of the body.


You blame slurred speech on your medications

“Some medicines, like painkillers, can cause slurred speech and people often chalk up speech issues to their

drugs as opposed to stroke,” says Dr. Sacco. But if that’s not a side effect you usually experience, you might

be having a stroke and should seek help immediately, he says.


You assume alcohol is behind your wobbliness

“People think they’re having balance issues because they had a drink, but see if that makes sense,” says

Dr. Brockington. “You won’t have delayed balance problems, so a drink from earlier in the day probably

isn’t to blame. It could be from a decrease in blood flow to the brain.” If you suddenly start to stumble,

can’t walk straight, or experience sudden dizziness, don’t wait for it to pass; call 911 right away.


You think that"it's on the tip of my tongue" feeling is due to being tired

When people have trouble thinking of the right words or lose their train of thought, they figure they're

tired or foggy, says Dr. Brockington. But sudden cognitive deficits are a common sign of stroke.

“You might struggle to think of a word every once in awhile, but there shouldn’t be a long period of time

where you can’t think of anything to say or be unable to speak,” says Dr. Brockington. In some cases,

stroke patients won’t be aware that anything is wrong, so people around them should raise the alarm.

“The part of the brain that isn’t working well impairs the stroke patient’s perception and the ability to think,”

says Dr. Sacco.


You chalk that blinding headache up to a migraine

It might just be a migraine, but if you’re not prone to them, it could be a stroke. “Migraine headaches

can masquerade as a stroke because they have the same neurological symptoms,” says Sacco. “I tell people to

treat it like a stroke and call for help; let us figure it out.”





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