Never ignore these signs of a stroke
In each minute of a stroke, your brain loses an estimated 1.9 million cells. Each hour a stroke goes untreated ages your brain the equivalent of three and a half years. The longer a stroke lasts or a patient doesn’t receive treatment, the greater chance of lingering speech difficulties, memory loss, or behavioural changes. The earlier a stroke is caught, the better the treatment options, which can minimize damage and improve the odds of a fuller recovery. “Stroke is scary. Denial is the biggest factor in delaying treatment. When I ask stroke patients in the ER why they waited to call 911, the most common response is that they wanted to see if it would go away,” says Carolyn Brockington, MD, director of the Mount Sinai Stroke Center in New York City.
There are two kinds of stroke. An ischemic stroke means blocked blood vessels cause a reduction in blood flow in the brain. A hemorrhagic stroke means a ruptured blood vessel is leaking blood in the brain. Symptoms for both kinds of stroke can be the same. It’s important to call 911 as soon as you notice any potential signs of trouble.
You think exhaustion is making you see double
Vision problems like seeing double, blurriness, or loss of sight in one eye can be a sign of a stroke, but many people blame this on old age or tiredness. “Seeing two images is very unusual for just being tired or reading too much,” Dr. Brockington says. A blocked blood vessel can reduce the amount of oxygen getting to the eye, which causes vision issues that may not be accompanied by any other signs of stroke.
You think your arm is numb because it “just fell asleep”
If you wake up from a nap and your arm or leg is numb, it’s easy to assume it’s due to a compressed nerve or similar condition. “Don’t feel like a hypochondriac. If your arm is suddenly numb or weak, and it doesn’t go away in a few minutes, call 911,” says Ralph Sacco, MD, professor of neurology at University of Miami North School of Medicine. Decreased blood flow through the arteries that run up your spine to the back of your head causes numbness or weakness on one side of the body.
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