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Know the Warning Signs of Strokes

April 23, 2012
numbness Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
confusion Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
trouble-seeing Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
dizziness Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
headache Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

A coworker sent an email today saying that stroke has a new indicator.  I had learned in the past to use the first 3 letters in the word, stroke:

S – ask the person to SMILE.

T – ask the person to TALK, to say a simple sentence.

R – ask the person to RAISE their arms.

If the person has difficulty with any of these, call 9-1-1 and report the symptoms to the dispatcher.

The new indicator promoted in this email is to have the person stick their tongue out;  if it is crooked, or goes to one side of the mouth, that can be an indicator.

This made me curious, so I looked for verification of this.  I didn’t find verification, but I did find the STR checklist (with or without the tongue indicator) doesn’t cover all the warning signs of stroke.   In looking at the Stroke Warning Signs  from the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, the STR checklist is helpful with the top two warning signs:

SUDDEN NUMBNESS OR WEAKNESS OF THE FACE, ARM OR LEG, ESPECIALLY ON ONE SIDE OF THE BODY   and

SUDDEN CONFUSION, TROUBLE SPEAKING OR UNDERSTANDING

The other stroke warning signs are:

SUDDEN TROUBLE SEEING IN ONE OR BOTH EYES

SUDDEN TROUBLE WALKING, DIZZINESS, LOSS OF BALANCE OR COORDINATION

SUDDEN SEVERE HEADACHE WITH NO KNOWN CAUSE

Knowing these warning signs saves lives.  It is vitally important that a person with any of these symptoms receives medical help as soon as is possible.  Call 9-1-1 and tell the dispatcher you suspect the person is suffering a stroke.  There is a very successful  clot-buster drug that can significantly reduce the effects of stroke, but it must be given within the first 3 hours of the onset of symptoms.

If you suspect that the person is having a stroke, DO NOT wait to see if they start feeling better.  Time is all-important. Up to two million brain cells die every minute during a stroke.  Recognizing symptoms and acting FAST to get medical attention can save a life and limit disabilities.

About 795,000 Americans each year suffer a stroke.  If you do the math, 60 seconds x 60 minutes x 24 hours x 365.25 days a year/ 795000: the answer is one stroke every 40 seconds.  Stroke kills more than 137,000 people a year; again, doing the math, that’s one stroke-related death every 4 minutes, making stroke the #4 cause of death in the US.

Please print a copy of the Stroke Warning Signs, review them with your family and employees and post it in a prominent place.

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