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How to Spot a Stroke

Posted Apr 29 2009 11:44pm
For those of you that are new to the Alzheimer's Reading Room bear with me on this one. I wrote earlier today about how my mother is suffering from severe headaches. We are working with our personal care physician to get to the bottom of this right now. Our doctor did give me some specific instructions about what to look for and what to do.  His advice included watching for the signs of stroke.

Ironically, I just received this email from the Rush University Medical Center. It is good advice and I decided to put it up tonight.
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How to Spot a Stroke
Don't Wait If You See Warning Signs

One of the daunting challenges of a stroke is knowing that it's even happening. 

"I think the most people don't recognize stroke symptoms as easily as, say, cardiac symptoms," says Shyam Prabhakaran, MD, a stroke neurologist at Rush University Medical Center. 

"When somebody has chest pain, it's a pretty strong indication that something is wrong in the middle of the chest,” says Prabhakaran, head of the stroke program at Rush. “Whereas when somebody has problems writing, it's not always clear to people that it's connected to the brain."

Strokes occur when clots block arteries that supply blood to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain breaks. They are the leading cause of adult disability and the second leading cause of death worldwide. 

Here are some of the possible warning signs:
  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, particularly on one side of the body
  • Trouble speaking
  • Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking or dizziness
  • Facial droop or asymmetry
  • A severe headache or "worst headache of your life"
If you think you or someone else may be having a stroke, it's crucial to act quickly and seek medical care. And Prabhakaran strongly recommends erring on the side of caution. 

"As soon as symptoms start, don't wait, don't think it's going to necessarily pass, don't sleep on it," he says, "because all those things could be precious time lost."

You can reach the Rush University Medical Center health pages by following this link.

Bob DeMarco is a citizen journalist and Caregiver. In addition to being an experienced writer he taught at the University of Georgia , was an Associate Director and Limited Partner at Bear Stearns, the CEO of IP Group, and a mentor. Bob currently resides in Delray Beach, FL where he cares for his mother, Dorothy, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.


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