Each year an estimated 600,000 Americans experience strokes, which are interruptions of the blood supply to any part of the brain, resulting in damaged brain tissue. Of these victims, 160,000 die, making stroke the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Those persons that do not die, are left with lifelong debilitating infirmities. It is important laypeople learn to recognize such events, because a new drug has been shown to limitdisability from strokes provided victims receive it within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms.
The warning signs of a stroke are:
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
How to Recognize a Stroke
Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. A stroke victim may suffer permanent brain damage when people fail to recognize what’s happening. Now, doctors say any bystander can recognize a stroke, simply by asking three questions:
ask the individual to smile.
ask him or her to raise both arms.
ask the person to speak a simple sentence.
If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call 911 immediately, and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. Researchers are urging the general public to learn to ask these three questions quickly, to someone they suspect of having a stroke. Widespread use of this test could result in prompt diagnosis and treatment of a stroke, and prevent permanent brain damage.