Time Is Of The Essence When Dealing With This Health Emergency

SPECIAL REPORT—According to the Mayo Clinic, many people who suffer a stroke do not recognize the initial symptoms and thus delay critical treatment and a worsening of their conditions.  The findings appeared in a recent issue of the Emergency Medical Journal.


Researchers conducted a study of 400 patients who were treated and diagnosed with either acute ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) and found that less than half of those patients thought they were having a stroke.


Furthermore, most of those cases revealed that stroke sufferers did not go to the emergency room promptly as symptoms appeared. Instead the median time from symptom onset to arrival at the hospital was over three and a half hours with no difference between women and men.


 "Time is crucial in treating stroke," says Scott Silvers, M.D., chair of the emergency medicine department at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida. "Although each person is different with respect to their medical history, in general, the sooner a patient experiencing a stroke, or with stroke-like symptoms reaches emergency care, the better."


Being able to recognize the early onset of a stroke increases the likelihood of better, more successful treatment in many cases.


Strokes may occur without warning or may occur over a span of several hours. Conditions generally worsen as time passes and no treatment is acquired. The blood clot that is responsible for the stroke can often be dissolved or disintegrated so that blood flow is restored to the brain. Because of the abilities of modern medicine, immediate treatment can mean a difference between a minor brain injury or a major disability or death.


Stroke symptoms include:


- Sudden numbness, weakness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg, usually affecting one side of the body


- Sudden difficulty in speaking or understanding speech


- Sudden blurred, double or decreased vision acuity


- Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination


- Severe, sudden headache or an unusual headache that can be accompanied by stiff neck, facial pain, pain between the eyes, vomiting or altered state of consciousness


- Confusion or memory problems, spatial orientation or perception


Sometimes strokes occur with no warning and some more major strokes occur after a TIA, which is a temporary interruption of blood flow to the brain. TIAs often have the same or similar symptoms but disappear without leaving permanent effects. This can be a warning sign of an impending major stroke.


Former North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Jim Long, who passed away in January, suffered a hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel bursts inside the brain. Long was 68.