Stroke: Time Matters So Know the Signs

Stroke-Time-Matters-1From the Fall 2011 Senior Circle publication

Stroke – a brain attack – is America’s third leading cause of death and a top cause of serious disability. Yet quick treatment can mean survival and recovery, according to Maria Stamp, MD, with Porter’s Lake Porter Medical Group. “There are treatments available, but they’re only available in the first few hours of a stroke,” said Stamp. “Time is critical. Your chances of recovering well may depend on your timing.”

Stamp advises to look for the following signs:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

While most people think a headache is always present, most stroke patients actually don’t have headaches,” said Stamp. She added that when any of these symptoms are present, call 911 immediately. “People will sometimes hesitate to call 911 just because an arm isn’t working right or they’re having trouble with vision. But being transported immediately can preserve brain cells and reduce the severity of the stroke. Not only can an EMS get you to the right facility in the least time, but they can begin administering treatment immediately, which can minimize the severity of the stroke.”

Stroke-Time-Matters-2Symptoms may indicate a hemorrhagic stroke (caused by a broken blood vessel), an ischemic stroke (caused by a blocked artery) or a transient ischemic stroke (TIA), which can last less than an hour. “Any stroke is an emergency,” said Stamp. “Your risk for a full stroke increases tenfold if you’ve had a TIA, and it can happen within hours, days or months.

Stamp also works to educate patients about preventing strokes from happening in the first place, as 80 percent of strokes are preventable. “Knowing that you have a history of TIA or a family history of stroke can be beneficial in taking steps to prevent a stroke,” she said. “We can all make healthy changes that significantly reduce our risk – changes such as controlling high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and being active.”

Indiana is among the nation’s known “Stroke Belt,” an 11-state region – mostly in the south – recognized by public health authorities for having an unusually high incidence of stroke and other forms of cardiovascular disease. “We don’t really know why these states have high stroke rates, but we do know we can do things to prevent strokes. Learning the signs and risk factors are keys to preventing and surviving strokes.

Visit the Porter Health System website
Valparaiso Campus
814 LaPorte Avenue
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Phone: 219-263-4600

To make an appointment with Dr. Stamp, call 219.464.7430. Dr. Stamp is a member of the medical staff at Porter.