A stroke is when a part of the brain suddenly dies, either from a blocked artery not allowing blood to carry oxygen to that portion of the brain, or a sudden bleed from a ruptured artery or vein. A transient ischemic attack, or TIA, is a reversible “mini stroke”, which often is a precursor to a more serious, permanent stroke. Seek IMMEDIATE emergency room care if you suddenly experience any of the following symptoms:
1)weakness and/or numbness in the face, arm and/or leg,
2)dimness or loss of vision,
3)difficulty with speaking, or comprehending what someone else is saying,
4)severe, “worst headache of my life”,
5)dizziness with loss of balance, especially if paired with any of the above symptoms.
Do not take an aspirin as you would with chest pain, as you may make a bleeding stroke worse. A CT scan of the head is used to rule this out. If you can get to the emergency room within 3 hours of the onset of symptoms, there is a very good chance that the stroke can be reversed with intravenous medication.
Certain factors have been identified as increasing the risk of stroke. These include smoking, uncontrolled diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, previous stroke or TIA, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), heart failure, coronary heart disease, carotid artery disease (the arteries that carry blood to you brain) and heart rhythm abnormalities such as atrial fibrillation. Consult with your physician to modify these risk factors and lessen your chance of having a permanent, debilitating stroke…Richard R Samuel, MD Family Practice and Urgent Care Hayden, ID USA