Since my stroke in 2001, I’ve been active in the American Heart Association. I sometimes emcee its annual balls and walks, as well as do numerous stories with heart and stroke survivors. I think the more awareness out there, the better. It helps people to realize how important it is to pay attention to their bodies. In fact, a study reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, shows how time is really of the essence.
The study was conducted at a university-affiliated public hospital. All patients hospitalized in the neurology department between 2000 and 2002 with ischemic stroke were included in the study. Researchers interviewed around 209 patients to determine what factors influenced their decision to seek treatment. For example, researchers found patients who called for an ambulance reduced their risk of delaying treatment by almost 75 percent.
Patients who perceived their symptoms as “severe” reduced their risk of delay by almost 60 percent compared to patients who failed to recognize the severity of symptoms.
When someone else recognized the seriousness of the symptoms and advised the patient to get help, patients reduced their risk of delaying treatment by more than 80 percent. This is what happened in my case. I was in denial and just thought I was tired. It wasn’t until a co-worker urged me to go to the emergency room that I finally decided to get help.
If you get to the hospital within three hours of having an ischemic stroke (which is caused by a blockage in the blood supply to the brain), you could receive a clot-busting drug to restore blood flow and reduce brain damage. I was lucky enough to get this type of drug. I received tPA, or tissue plasminogen activator.
The American Stroke Association urges people to know the warning signs of a stroke because it is a medial emergency. If you notice one or more of these signs, get help right away.
Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body -Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding -Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination -Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
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