By Victor Zach, M.D.
I see the debilitating effects of stroke every day. The disease is the No. 4 cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability in the U.S.
Stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot (an ischemic stroke) or bursts (a hemorrhagic stroke). This causes brain cells in that area of the brain to die, and they don’t regenerate.
When it comes to recognizing the sudden signs and symptoms of stroke, think F.A.S.T.
F.: Face drooping or numbness on one side of the face. Ask the person to smile.
A.: Arm weakness or numbness. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift down?
S.: Speech difficulty. Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or is he/she hard to understand?
T.: Time to call 9-1-1. If the person has any of these symptoms, even if they go away, call 9-1-1.
Other symptoms can include sudden onset of leg numbness or weakness; confusion or trouble understanding; difficulty seeing in one or both eyes; trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; severe headache with no known cause.
It’s important to get to the hospital ASAP so that a clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) can be administered intravenously. This drug has been shown to improve your chances of getting better, but the window is small—within three hours of the start of symptoms.
As a Primary Stroke Center, John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital is certified to follow national standards and guidelines that can significantly improve outcomes.