Close to 800,000 people in North America suffer a stroke every year. Knowing the symptoms and what to do if you suspect a loved one (or yourself) of having a stroke can save vital minutes in getting treatment, minimizing the damage the stroke does.
Different Types of Stoke
Ischemic Stroke – This is the most common kind of stroke, happening when a blood vessel that supplies the brain becomes blocked. Atherosclerosis (the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries) causes blood clots, which then cut off the blood supply to the brain, resulting in a stroke.
A so-called ‘mini stroke’ is the result of a temporary blockage. Symptoms are similar and can last from minutes to hours. These strokes are called transient ischemic attacks (TIA), and while they don’t normally cause permanent damage to the brain, they should be taken as serious warning signs.
Hemorrhagic Stroke – Less common but no less serious, this happens when a patient’s blood vessels become weakened and bleed into the brain.
Warning Signs of a Stroke
Strokes have various warning signs you can watch out for:
- Numbness or weakness in arms, legs, or facial muscles
- Difficulty in understanding people or in speaking
- Vision problems in one or both eyes
- Dizziness or balance problems
A common acronym for remembering stroke symptoms is FAST, which means:
- Face Drooping on one side – ask them to smile and note the differences
- Arm weakness – ask them to raise both arms and notice difficulties in holding one up
- Speech problems – ask them to repeat a phrase
- Time to call 911 if any or all of the symptoms are present
Strokes do their damage fast, so prompt emergency room treatment is vital. In stroke situations, even a couple of minutes can make all the difference in the rate of recovery the patient experiences.
What to Expect in the Emergency Room
The different types of stroke are treated in various ways:
Ischemic Stroke Treatment
On arrival at the emergency room, treatment will begin as soon as possible.
- Aspirin – often the first form of treatment. As a powerful medication to prevent blood clots, giving aspirin immediately can reduce the chances of subsequent strokes.
- Tissue Plasminogen Activator (TPA) – This is another powerful drug that dissolves blood clots, and is usually administered through a vein in the arm. Also known as alteplase, treatment needs to begin within 4.5 hours of the onset of symptoms and may help victims make a fuller recovery. There is a risk of bleeding into the brain so your doctor will work to determine if this is a suitable treatment.
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Certain treatments may be offered to prevent further strokes:
- Angioplasty or Stents: A catheter is lead up through the groin to the carotid arteries in the neck, then the artery is inflated and a stent inserted to prevent collapse.
- Carotid Endarterectomy: Plaque is removed from the carotid artery through incisions made in the neck. Once the artery is opened, the doctor can safely remove the plaques that, if left, could cause further strokes.
There are other treatments for ischemic strokes, although recent studies indicate they may not be beneficial for everyone. These include:
- The mechanical removal of clots, where a catheter is inserted into the brain. This enables doctors to manually break up the clot to remove it.
- TPA may be administered directly to the brain in some instances, via a catheter inserted into an artery in the groin that’s then gently guided to the appropriate site in the brain. Naturally, this treatment takes longer than intravenous TPA.
Hemorrhagic Stroke Treatment
Focusing on controlling bleeding and reducing pressure on the brain, there are a couple of treatments for victims of this type of stroke:
Counteracting Blood Thinning Drugs – people who take warfarin may need drugs to reverse the effect in order to control bleeding into the brain. Additional drugs may also be given to reduce pressure, prevent seizures, or lower blood pressure. Healing from bleeding into the brain is similar to that of waiting for a bruise to subside. In cases of serious bleeding, surgery may be needed to remove excess blood.
Surgically Repairing Blood Vessels – if damaged blood vessels were the cause of the hemorrhagic stroke, various treatments are available including:
- Clamping an aneurysm to prevent bursting.
- Inserting coils into an aneurysm to block blood flow.
- Surgery to remove malformations in arteries in the brain, if the affected part of the brain is accessible and not too large.
- Intracranial bypasses of blood vessels may be offered to repair poor blood flow.
- Radiosurgery to repair vascular malformations.
In addition to understanding the symptoms, effects, and treatments, it may also speed up treatment if you know the closest medical centers or emergency rooms that are equipped to take care of stroke victims. Hopefully, you’ll never need it, but you’ll be prepared if you do.
— Update: 20-03-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Signs of Stroke? Why You Need to Get to the ER Fast from the website www.medstarhealth.org for the keyword what does er do for mini stroke.
When it comes to seeking care in the emergency room (ER), it’s often best to get there sooner rather than later. For many illnesses and injuries, there are more options—and better outcomes—the earlier you receive treatment.
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This is especially true if you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or signs of a stroke—all of which are medical emergencies. If you or a loved one shows signs of stroke, you should call 911 immediately.
Every second counts when you’re having a stroke.
A stroke, or “brain attack”, occurs when a clot or burst blood vessel blocks blood flow to the brain. When brain tissue doesn’t receive proper blood flow, millions of brain cells begin to die quickly. These brain cells are responsible for movement, speech, and thinking, which means every minute that passes increases your risk of permanent damage to your brain, or even death. That’s why many healthcare providers say “time is brain”.
If you or someone you love are experiencing stroke symptoms, don’t brush them off or wait for them to pass. Call 911 right away, as it could save your life.
You only have a few hours to receive life-saving stroke treatment.
The more time that passes without treatment, the more brain cells that will die, which means a greater risk of long-term disabilities. By acting quickly and calling 911 at the earliest signs of stroke, you can get to the hospital in time to receive treatment that clears the blockage and restores blood flow to your brain. This treatment can only be administered within 3-4.5 hours from the moment your first symptom appears. And, treatment is safer and more effective the earlier it’s used.
Don’t try to drive yourself to the ER. Call 911 as soon as possible.
You can’t afford to waste any time—or brain cells—when you suspect a stroke. But, don’t try to drive your car or let someone else drive you, as your symptoms could worsen on the way. The fastest way to seek treatment is to call 911. Emergency medical responders move quickly and communicate with the emergency room staff so they’re prepared to administer treatment as soon as you arrive at the ER. This can save precious brain cells that could mean the difference between your ability to talk and walk independently or live with permanent disabilities.
Even if you think the symptoms are minor or could suggest a mini-stroke, known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), don’t hesitate to call 911. A TIA could be an early sign that a larger stroke looms ahead.
Don’t let the fear of overreacting prevent you from acting. It’s better to go to the hospital quickly and have the ER providers rule out a stroke than wait it out at home and risk your life. If you get to the ER and it’s not a stroke—celebrate! We’ll be glad you acted quickly and came to the ER to protect your life.
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B.E. F.A.S.T.: How to identify early signs of a stroke.
The acronym B.E. F.A.S.T. can help you notice early signs of a stroke, whether you’re experiencing them firsthand or witnessing them happening to someone around you.
If you or someone else shows even one sign of the following stroke symptoms, call 911.
- Balance: Do you feel a loss of balance or coordination? Are you having trouble staying upright or steady while walking?
- Eyes: Are you having sudden vision problems or trouble seeing in one or both eyes? Do things look blurry or doubled in either eye?
- Face: Do you feel numb on one side of your face? Or, is one side of your face drooping?
- Arm: Does one arm feel numb or weak?
- Speech: Are you slurring your speech, struggling to find commonly used words, or having other difficulties talking?
- Time to call 911: If any of these stroke symptoms arise, don’t delay to see if it will go away. Call 911 immediately.
Other signs of stroke may include sudden symptoms of:
- Numbness on one side of the body
- Severe headache
What to expect when you get to the ER.
When you get to the ER via ambulance, a trained medical team will be waiting to diagnose and treat you immediately. At MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, our ER staff will work together to quickly determine whether or not you had or are having a stroke using blood work and diagnostic tests, such as a CAT scan or EKG.
Once you’ve been diagnosed, we’ll act fast to remove the blockage and re-establish blood flow to the brain. We’ll also investigate what caused the stroke in the first place so we can help establish a plan to prevent it from happening again.
Symptoms and severity of effects after a stroke vary from person to person. Some people make a full recovery, while others experience devastating losses in function, speech, or cognition. If you need rehabilitation services, we’ll help you get the care you need from a team of neurologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists who can help you regain independence.
Get the fast care you need in a safe environment.
Patient safety has always been our number one priority at MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, and we are taking extra precautions to ensure our ER facility is safe, clean, and secure.
If you spot early signs of stroke, don’t wait another minute. Call 911 immediately. It just might save your life.