If well recognized early warning signs of stroke can be treated and save your life. Knowing the symptoms before a stroke can be invaluable.
Since the most common types of stroke are ischemic, this can be treated aggressively if caught soon enough. Over 80% of all strokes are ischemic in nature, which means narrowing of the arteries causing lack of oxygen to the brain.
In a study published in the journal Neurology (2005), 43% of patients had stroke warning signs up to 7 days before the stroke actually happened. Most of the time, these patients were having TIA's or transient ischemic attacks. This seems to indicate that symptoms of TIA should be taken seriously and patients need to become vigilant about reporting these symptoms to their doctors.
Early warning signs of stroke:
- lack of coordination
- slurred speech
- generalized weakness
- headache that worsens with time
It is especially important if these symptoms go beyond 15 minutes to seriously consider going to the emergency room. Do not waste time calling your
doctor's office. Why? Because with an ischemic stroke, the magic window for treatment is 3 hours. If a stroke team can get to you in that time, they may
be able to "open" the artery that is shut down, thus avoiding severe or permanent damage.
At times it can be quite difficult to tell the difference between mild stroke symptoms and a TIA or transient ischemic attack because there are different types of stroke. Therefore it is always better to get to the ER for further testing which would include a CT or MRI of the brain.
At the present time major stroke centers in the United States, such as Sanford Stroke Center recommend anti-platelet agents to thin the blood. The most commonly used are aspirin, Plavix and Aggrenox (Plavix and aspirin combined). Platelets, unfortunately, can clump together in blood vessels in something called platelet aggregation. These platelet clumps can clog an artery, causing ischemia and thereby a stroke.
One other thing offered at these centers is a blood test called "aspirin or Plavix sensitivity testing". We are doing it in our practice at Dent Neurologic Institute. Up to 20% of all people with a history of stroke who are on these drugs are NOT responding. This test can determine that. If it does occur we either change medications or increase dosing, and then re-test the person.
By recognising the early warning signs of stroke and implementing stroke prevention methods, hopefully you can avoid a major stroke.
Stanford Stroke Center. Obtained online from Stanford Stroke Center Medications.