Knowing the signs and getting the right care after a stroke is critical.
When you have a stroke, every second counts. Receiving good care fast is key to avoiding long-term damage. For an ischemic stroke (the most common kind, when a clot impedes blood flow to the brain), the gold standard treatment is an infusion of the clot-busting drug tPA within 4½ hours.
"Getting tPA improves the chances that you'll avoid a lifetime of disability," says Steven Messe, MD, associate professor of neurology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Yet a study performed by Dr. Messe found that 25% of patients who may have benefited from the drug-especially women and African-Americans-did not receive it in time.
Experts note that in general, women tend to get less aggressive care than men do for heart attack and stroke. While awareness is improving, it's important to advocate for yourself and alert your family and friends.
Know the signs
The most common indicator of a stroke is a sudden onset of weakness or numbness on one side of the body, including the face and arms. Depending on your condition, you could try to raise both your arms up or smile in a mirror; if one arm drifts down or a grin is uneven, you likely need immediate help. Other symptoms include slurred speech, weakness in one arm, impaired vision, and dizziness.
Driving yourself to the hospital or getting a ride from a friend is not
a good idea. That's because emergency responders can start lifesaving treatment as soon as they arrive. Another plus of getting an ambulance: You're rushed to the head of the line.
If you can talk, say, "I think I'm having a stroke" or just "stroke." Using the actual word in addition to describing how you feel is more likely to result in immediate attention, says Dr. Messe. "If you come in and say, 'My vision is kind of funny and my head hurts,' the ER staffer may assume it's a migraine," cautions Dr. Messe. If you live near a primary stroke center (PSC) or comprehensive stroke center (CSC), which are hospitals specially certified in stroke management, request to be taken there (or have a loved one do so for you).
How To Help
If someone appears to be having a stroke, note what time the symptoms started so physicians can decide on tPA or another treatment. At the hospital, be persistent. As doctors say, "Time is brain." Ask what's being done to determine if it's a stroke since an MRI may be in order.
Culled from msn.com