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Time is Critical in Detecting a Stroke March 17, 2008

FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Rebecca Sylvester at 706/828-2394.

Time is Critical in Detecting a Stroke

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Feb. 12, 2008 - In the time it takes to read this report, at least two strokes will have occurred, and at least one person will die from stroke.

A stroke, which occurs when blood flow to part of the brain is blocked, is the third leading cause of death, according to University Hospital Nurse Practitioner Victoria Burt. Ms. Burt, an ongoing guest on the NBC Augusta Healthy U segment, recently addressed this viewer's question, "What are the signs of a stroke?"

There are different types of a stroke. An ischemic stroke, which occurs in 83 percent of patients, is when blood flow is blocked by fatty deposits or blood clots. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel ruptures and causes blood to leak into the brain. Transient ischemic attacks, or "mini strokes," are temporary, warning signs for serious strokes.

The effects of a stroke depend on the location and extent of brain tissue affected, but they can lead to paralysis, vision or speech problems, memory loss, behavior changes, even death.

"The key to surviving a stroke is recognizing it quickly and seeking the appropriate care," Ms. Burt said.

The warning signs include:

  • Sudden weakness in the face, arm or leg on one side of body.
  • Sudden trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble with vision.
  • Sudden severe and unusual headache.
  • Unexplained dizziness.

The risk factors for stroke include:

  • Age.
  • Family history.
  • History of stroke.
  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol levels.
  • Heart disease or an irregular heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation).
  • Diabetes.
  • Obesity.
  • Physical inactivity.
  • Smoking.
  • Stress.

         "The best way to prevent a stroke is to change the risk factors that we can and have routine appointments with a health care provider to manage any medical conditions that could be contributing to the risk," Ms. Burt said. "If you survive a stroke, the window of opportunity to treat it successfully is about three hours. So, time is critical."

If you suspect a stroke, call 911. For more information regarding stroke or help finding a physician, call ASK-A-NURSE at 706/737-8423.

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