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Know the Signs
Because stroke injures the brain, you may not realize that you are having a stroke. To a bystander, someone having a stroke may just look unaware or confused. Stroke victims have the best chance if someone around them recognizes the symptoms and acts quickly.
The symptoms of stroke are distinct because they happen quickly:
If you believe someone is having a stroke – if he or she suddenly loses the ability to speak, or move an arm or leg on one side, or experiences facial paralysis on one side – call 911 immediately.
Act in Time
Stroke is a medical emergency. Every minute counts when someone is having a stroke. The longer blood flow is cut off to the brain, the greater the damage. Immediate treatment can save people's lives and enhance their chances for successful recovery.
Ischemic strokes, the most common type of strokes, can be treated with a drug called t-PA, that dissolves blood clots obstructing blood flow to the brain. The window of opportunity to start treating stroke patients is three hours, but to be evaluated and receive treatment, patients need to get to the hospital within 60 minutes.
A five-year study by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) found that some stroke patients who received t-PA within three hours of the start of stroke symptoms were at least 30 percent more likely to recover with little or no disability after three months.
The best treatment for stroke is prevention. There are several risk factors that increase your chances of having a stroke:
If you smoke – quit. If you have high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or high cholesterol, getting them under control – and keeping them under control – will greatly reduce your chances of having a stroke.
"Know Stroke. Know the Signs. Act in Time.", NINDS. January 2008.
NIH Publication No. 08-4872