May is stroke month, and this gives us an opportunity to refresh our memories about the signs and symptoms of stroke. They include the sudden onset of numbness or weakness on one side of the body, sudden inability to speak or slurred speech, sudden blurred or double vision. They also include sudden loss of balance or difficulty walking or sudden severe headache. Most strokes happen because a blood vessel that brings blood to the brain becomes blocked.
If you or someone you are with experiences these symptoms, it is important to call 911 immediately. Timely arrival to the hospital with an acute stroke allows the doctors to quickly evaluate and treat you with tPA, a “clot buster” drug that can often alleviate the symptoms of stroke. Sometimes more advanced treatments involving catheters in the arteries of the brain are used to retrieve the clots as well.
Brain cells die quickly when they do not have blood flow. Because “Time Is Brain,” the faster the stroke patient arrives at our door, the better chance for a complete recovery.
Dr. Karen Porth, neurologist, Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, Boise