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Don’t ignore “mild” strokes

Seeking care can prevent big strokes in the future.

Many people at risk for heart attack are also at higher risk for stroke, since the underlying disease process—atherosclerosis—can block blood flow to the brain, just as it does in the heart. Although many people know that chest pain is a sign of insufficient blood flow to the heart, they may not recognize the symptoms of inadequate blood flow to the brain. As a result, they can have a mild stroke and not know it.

Strokes that cause mild symptoms still damage brain cells. The impact of one mild stroke may not be evident, depending on the area of the brain in which it occurs. But when a person has several mild strokes, the resulting damage may be harmful and irreversible. That’s why stroke experts encourage anyone who experiences the symptoms of stroke—no matter how mild the symptoms seem—to call 911 immediately.

Symptoms of a stroke (or pending stroke) include:

  • sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes

  • sudden onset of weakness, numbness, or tingling on one side of the body

  • sudden drooping of one side of the face

  • sudden difficulty with speech or balance

  • sudden confusion.

“It’s best to call 911, because the sooner you are treated, the greater your chance of recovery,” says Dr. Natalia Rost, a stroke neurologist and associate director of Acute Stroke Services at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. “If you wait to see whether the symptoms will pass before seeking help, you risk suffering irreversible brain damage. Once brain cells are lost, they cannot be revived.”

People admitted to the emergency department with symptoms of mild stroke may be given a clot-busting drug called tPA. The drug can prevent permanent damage, but only when given within three to four-and-a-half hours after the stroke occurs.

Posted by: Dr.Health

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