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Signs of a Stroke Should Never be Ignored

It's crucial to get to the doctor right away if stroke symptoms are noted, even if they go away. (cdc.gov)
It's crucial to get to the doctor right away if stroke symptoms are noted, even if they go away. (cdc.gov)
June 6, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. – About one in three American adults experienced a symptom consistent with a warning or "mini" stroke, but almost none - 3 percent - took the recommended action, according to a recent survey from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Dr. Jin-Moo Lee, director of Stroke Services at Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, specializes in strokes and says 35 percent of respondents reported having experienced at least one sign of a warning stroke, and those who did were more likely to wait, rest or take medicine than call 911.

"The treatments for stroke have to be implemented within the first several hours, and so it's really important to recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke so that patients can show up to the emergency room," he explains.

Signs of a stroke include sudden onset of weakness or numbness on one part of the body, severe headache, only being able to see out of one eye, and difficulty speaking. Three in four strokes strike those age 65 and older, and the risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after age 55.

Keeping blood pressure in check, a healthy balanced diet, and getting enough exercise are top ways to ward off strokes.

Lee says strokes are caused by a blockage of an artery in the brain that cuts off blood flow. He says many people suffer mini-strokes, which is a stroke that reverses itself and the symptoms go away, but he says that doesn't mean everything is OK.

"These symptoms are transient," he says. "They come and go. Many people think that they're benign. However, they're usually a warning sign that another stroke will occur. So capturing someone before that stroke occurs is really important so that prevention measures can be taken."

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MN