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Detecting a Stroke. Saving a life.

The New Test to Prevent YOU from Dying of a Stroke
Strokes happen every day. In fact in the U.S., someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds. Approximately 700,000 new and recurrent strokes occur each year, and the condition affects one in five people during their lifetime.

It’s no surprise, then, that stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Japan (after heart disease and cancer).

But new research has led doctors (and the general population) to be more aware of stroke symptoms, and is helping save lives every day. Before we get into that, let’s take a look at what exactly a stroke is.

What is a Stroke?
According to the Center for Cerebrovascular Research, the two primary types of stroke are ischemic and hemorrhagic. They define an ischemic stroke is “ANY damage to the brain caused by lack of blood flow in the brain blood vessels or in major arteries leading to the brain. This usually results in temporary or permanent loss of one or more normal functions of the body.” A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by bleeding into the brain causing damage.

Risk factors for stroke vary from things you CAN control, such as diet, obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, and excess alcohol; to things you CANNOT control, such as age, gender, race and a family history.

A TIA, or transient ischemic attack, is when a person experiences a moment of stroke symptoms, but then those symptoms disappear. There is no permanent damage done to the brain during a TIA, but what is important to know is that a TIA is a fairly good indication that a major stroke WILL eventually occur.

The Center for Cerebrovascular Research lists the following as typical stroke warning signs:

  • 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.

New Research Reveals Fourth Indicator of Stroke
Traditionally, there have been three simple “tests” that you can perform immediately to determine if someone is suffering a stroke. It is known as “STR” and stands for:

S  *Ask the individual to SMILE.
T  *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (coherently).
R  *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

But now doctors are saying there is a fourth indicator to help bystanders determine a stroke in action: ask the person to stick out his or her tongue. If the tongue is “crooked;” if it goes to one side or the other, that is also an indication of a stroke.

Why is Immediate Detection So Important?
The unfortunate part in all of this is that many people aren’t aware of stroke symptoms; nor do they know how to do the quick test to assess whether a stroke has occurred. I recently read the following story:

During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and took a little fall – she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics)… she said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes.

They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening.

Jane’s husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital – (at 6:00 PM Jane passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Jane would be with us today. Some don’t die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead.

The fortunate part, however, is that if a stroke victim is treated within three (3) hours, many neurologists believe that the effects of the stroke can be completely REVERSED. That is why awareness and detection is so crucial, especially in light of the fact that this dangerous condition occurs every 45 seconds.

Please take a minute or two to share this information with friends and family members. Who knows… they may just be saving YOUR life someday in the future.

Cited Sources

  • Higashida, Randall T. “What Is a Stroke?” UCSF Center for Cerebrovascular Research. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2013.
  • “Healthy Tips 4 You.” Best Health Tips 4 You. N.p., 16 Dec. 2012. Web. 26 Jan. 2013.

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