Strokes are scary and alarming medical emergencies. Most people have seen a stroke portrayed on television, often involving difficult speech or movement, and sometimes paralysis. Fortunately, medical science has advanced faster than the average scriptwriter.
While strokes still represent a serious medical event, we have gotten better at diagnosing and treating these occurrences, taking some of the fear out of this medical issue. Understand how strokes are diagnosed and treated so you’ll be prepared if this happens to your family.
Signs fo a Stroke
If you suspect that you or someone you are with is having a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. If you are unfamiliar with stroke symptoms, here are some guidelines that can help from the American Stroke Association.
- Face Drooping – Not refer to a frown or the settling one’s face can do with age, face drooping usually occurs on one side of the face. Think of someone who is attempting to smile, but only one side of the mouth goes up. You may also notice this in an eyelid that doesn’t raise. Face drooping can indicate paralysis in the facial muscles, caused by a blockage due to stroke.
- Arm Weakness or Numbness – A quick test for this is to ask a person to raise both arms and see if one drifts downwards. Arm numbness or weakness can also be an indicator of a heart attack — either way, it’s best to call 9-1-1.
- Speech Troubles – A stroke can cause slurred speech or speech that is difficult to understand. Test for this symptom by asking the affected person to repeat a simple sentence.
The classic symptoms above are all strong indicators of stroke, but there are also lesser known symptoms that can be indicators. Severe headaches, unexplained dizziness, and vision loss could also be signs of stroke.
Treatment for Stroke
While it is true that stroke can be deadly, it is also true that many patients have survived a stroke with timely care and proper treatments. Treatment may include medication, monitoring, and surgery. Blood thinners such as aspirin are commonly used, as is the clot-busting super drug called TPA. Specific courses of care are determined by the extent and location of the blood clot, as well as the overall health of the patient.
Prevention of Stroke
The best way to prevent a stroke is with healthy lifestyle choice including diet and exercise, and avoidance of stroke causing habits like smoking. For those at high risk or who have had previous strokes, more drastic action is often recommended.
A patient may be put on long-term blood thinners to prevent a clot. Another approach includes preventative surgery like carotid stenting, a method of supporting the vital carotid artery and preventing its blockage or collapse.
Discover the latest technology in stroke treatment and prevention by talking to your doctor.