Recognizing and dealing with a stroke quickly

Strokes are still very common and devastating. The important thing to know is the early warning signs, and to seek treatment immediately. A few years ago, I was sitting at my kitchen table when I suddenly noticed that the two small fingers on my left hand had become numb. I tried shaking my arm thinking that my hand had just “fallen asleep” but the numbness didn’t go away. Being a doctor, I quickly reviewed the warning signs of a stroke (damage to the brain caused by a blood clot or bleed) and reluctantly (but quickly) realized I needed to the emergency room, because if this was a minor stroke, it could be a warning of a larger and more disabling or even fatal one to come. I was diagnosed with a small stroke, and although this was very minor, I received studies to look for more devastating causes (e.g. blood clots in my heart chambers or significant narrowing of the arteries going to my brain). Luckily, no further threatening cause was found and I have been successfully treated with blood thinners.

The attached education sheet from the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, reviews the early signs you need to know about. The key thing is early recognition of warning signs, diagnosis and treatment within hours. Otherwise your stroke may grow to a very devastating one which can leave you partially paralyzed and unable to work or enjoy life as you would like. It may also kill you.

There are several new treatments for stroke, as well as ways to prevent strokes. So, check out “Let’s talk about Stroke, TIA and Warning Signs.”

Keywords: stroke, transient ischemic attack, TIA, blood clot, arterial disease, warning signs

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