Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Wanted: Recognition of stroke symptoms

Not good news: A large number of older people don't know the signs of a stroke.

As reported not long ago, only 54 percent of older people said slurred speech indicated a stroke. And that was the most commonly recognized sign. Furthermore:
Researchers from Dublin, Ireland, questioned 2,033 older men and women.

They found that fewer than half knew that dizziness, numbness, weakness, and headache were common warning signs of stroke.

Dr. Anne Hickey of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and colleagues also found that only 54% of participants listed slurred speech as an indicator of stroke.
What are the signs? Here they are, from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
And just one sign is enough. I never had a headache. Another stroke survivor never had a speech problem. Vision might or might not be affected. Again: One sign is enough. A stroke can hit the young or old.

What to do? If you have one of these symptoms, or if you are with someone who is showing a sign, get help immediately. Don't wait. Get that person to an emergency room (but don't, of course, drive yourself). Call 911.

No comments: