Tuesday, January 04, 2011
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Several recent studies have shown that many people don't know the signs and symptoms of stroke. Not knowing could be deadly or disabling, according to the January issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of serious, long-term disability. Men have a higher risk of stroke, compared to women. But more women die of stroke each year because they typically live longer than men and are older when strokes occur.
Treatments are available that can greatly reduce the damage caused by stroke. But minutes count. With a stroke, brain cells immediately start to die or become damaged. Patients or family members must recognize the signs and get emergency medical attention to receive the most benefit.
Ischemic strokes, the most common type, are caused when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain. Doctors can break up the clot with the drug known as tissue plasminogen activator (TPA). However, TPA typically needs to be administered within 4.5 hours after symptoms first begin. While other treatment options may be available, the earlier treatment is started, the more likely it is to be successful.
The traditional warning signs of a stroke come on quickly and include:
More unusual signs — which also occur suddenly — include feelings of facial or limb pain, nausea, tiredness or general weakness, shortness of breath or heart palpitations. These less common symptoms occur more often in women.
Stroke symptoms may last several minutes to an hour and disappear. These brief episodes may be due to a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also called a ministroke. A TIA shouldn't be ignored. It increases the risk of a stroke that could cause permanent damage.
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