Recognize and Act on Symptoms of Stroke

Window of Opportunity by by sylvia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Window of Opportunity by by sylvia is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

First I must say I am not a doctor, but I have worked in Neuro and know that stroke awareness is very important, therefore I wish to discuss how one can recognize and act upon the symptoms of stroke.


1. Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, or extremities, especially on one side of the body.

2. Sudden trouble ambulating, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

3. Sudden, severe headache without reason

4. Sudden problems with your sight, in one or both eyes

5. Sudden confusion, difficulty expressing yourself, or understanding others

CALL 911 *Do not wait.

Try to remember what time the symptoms started for the hospital will ask you or your family member this question.

There is an important reason for this question, and that is once a person starts exhibiting symptoms of stroke you only have a 4.5 hour window to work with in determining whether that person had a hemorrhagic or ischemic ( a clot preventing blood flow to the brain, where no hemorrhage has occurred) stroke and possibly starting tPA (which is explained later in this hub). If it is an ischemic stroke there is a possibility of reversing the above mentioned symptoms with tPA before they become life long. (Always verify the “window” in which you have to work within, for it has extended from 3 hour to 4.5 hours recently, and one may never know when it can or may change again. The hours shown reflect as of today’s date 12/1/10). You may think that 4.5 hours is ample time to work with, but there are several considerations one must take.

1. Travel time to the hospital

2. Getting a neurological assessment

3. Obtaining a CT scan to determine whether you had a stroke and what kind

4. Drawing Labs

5. Testing the Blood Sugar

6. And possibly start tPA (IV medication that can dissolve the clot allowing blood flow. This can only be used in ischemic strokes, not hemorrhagic strokes. Other avenues have to be considered in hemorrhagic strokes.) There are certain contraindications with tPA, as well, therefore data must be obtained taking further "window" time away. Yet, if you are a canidate symptoms can be resolved with tPA.

Therefore, you can see the importance of time management upon noticing the symptoms of stroke and remembering the time when these symptoms occurred. Always know which area hospitals have stroke centers or have 24-hour emergency stroke care available in your area, but most importantly CALL 911 so you can get to a hospital.

Garbled or slurred speech, facial droop on one side of the face, problems expressing yourself or understanding what people are saying, visual disturbances, severe headache, numbness or weakness on one side. All are side effects, CALL 911 and make that window of opportunity.


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