May 12, 2009 in Features

Watch for signs of stroke

Liz Atwood Baltimore Sun
 

More than 140,000 people in the U.S. die each year from stroke, making it the country’s second leading cause of death for women, and the third for men. About 795,000 strokes occur each year. At least one-quarter occur in people younger than 65, making it a health subject important to several age groups.

Dr. Marian LaMonte, neurology chief at St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore offers the following advice about strokes.

Know the warning signs of stroke. These include sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes; sudden trouble speaking or confusion; sudden trouble walking or loss of balance or coordination; sudden severe headache.

Call 911 as soon as you notice any of the stroke warning signs and get to the nearest hospital by ambulance. It is important to seek immediate medical attention. Stroke is an emergency.

Advocate for treatment with TPA, the clot-buster drug, in the emergency department. This treatment reduces the disability from stroke and increases the chance that you could be free of any symptoms three months from your stroke.

Know and treat your own personal risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Common risk factors include high blood pressure and cholesterol; diabetes; smoking; excess alcohol or illicit drug use; and known heart disease. Work with your doctor to keep these under control.

It is important to eat fresh food – not packaged or fast food – and to exercise daily. Being inactive, obese or both can increase your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and stroke. You should get at least 30 minutes of activity a day.


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