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Heed the Warning Signs

Quick Action is Key with Saving Stroke Patients.

Learning the facts about stroke, could help you save someone’s life – maybe even your own. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. In the past, stroke victims were given little chance of making a full recovery. Research has shown that timing is ev­erything in treating a stroke – time lost is brain tissue lost.

“With a stroke, you essentially have be­tween a 3- to 4 ½-hour window of time before risking irreparable damage, so ev­ery second counts,” said Leonard Winer, MD, director of emergency services at Missouri Baptist. “Time is of the essence. The key is recognizing the signs and seeking immediate medical attention.”

Eligible ischemic stroke patients may be given the clot-dissolving drug tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), which can reduce long-term disability, if given within the window of time after stroke onset. Unfortunately, only a small per­centage of eligible patients in the U.S. receive tPA because they haven’t sought immediate medical attention.

The warning signs can be obvious or subtle, depending on the individual and the type of stroke. Warning signs of stroke are sudden and include:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side
  • Confusion
  • Trouble speaking or understanding
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Difficulty walking
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache with no known cause.

Go to the ER immediately if experiencing any of the symptoms. Time is brain tissue.

Resource: American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association.

Leonard Winer, MD, is board-certified in emergency medicine and on staff at Mis­souri Baptist Medical Center. He earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Ohio and completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Reading Hospital and Medical Center. He is Director of the Emergency Department and Chief of Emergency Medicine at Missouri Baptist Medical Center.

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