Speaking of Health – STROKES

By Gilda Morales, ANP, DC

Today’s column is written in the hope that local residents will develop a new awareness about strokes and the signs and symptoms associated with this devastating event and possible save a life.  Most hospitals have a specific protocol to deal with stroke, designed to act as quickly as possible to treat the event.  However, many times, family or friends are ill-prepared to recognize the signs and symptoms and as such, they fail to call 911 or bring the patient to the emergency department in time to prevent neurological deficits.

The main signs to be aware of are changes in someone’s behavior, such as confusion, inability to recognize family or friends, inability to talk or slurring words, weakness on one side, and facial drooping on one side.  There may also be a headache, sometime described as “the worst headache of my life,” nausea and vomiting.

Strokes are either ischemic, or caused by a blood clot, or hemorrhagic, or due to a bleed at a weak blood vessel in the brain.  If it is an ischemic stroke, there is a short window for treatment with TPA, a special “clot-buster,” that can improve outcomes significantly if given in time.  Unfortunately, hemorrhagic strokes do not always have good outcomes if the bleed is massive.  In either case, the best way to insure that the patient has a chance at a good outcome is to make sure that he/she is transported to the emergency department as soon as possible.  Below are some signs to look for if you suspect a stroke.