Mitch, one of the hapless ER patients in last week's episode of Grey's Anatomy, had a stroke in the parking lot because Lexie was too distracted by his "girlfriend from hell" to recognize the signs of an impending stroke. Luckily, it's in your power to do better.
The National Stroke Organization lists the following as indicators that a stroke might be imminent:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the 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
If you or someone else experiences these symptoms, call 911 immediately. The earlier a stroke is detected, the better. Many stroke patients will initially deny that anything is wrong, but as the old adage says, it's better to be safe than sorry. Also, if you can, note the time the first symptom occurred — this could be useful information.
Some risk factors for strokes aren't in your control — like being male; being over the age of 55; being African-American, Hispanic, or Pacific/Islander; having diabetes; and having a family history of stroke. But some are lifestyle choices: not exercising, eating unhealthily, smoking, and drinking excessively increases the chances of a stroke.
Strokes don't have to be a game-changer; you just have to be prepared.
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