Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death nationwide. Brain damage from strokes can be minimized if they are treated promptly, but it’s common to mistake signs of a stroke for other health problems, which delays treatment.
BY ALYSSA JUNG
Never ignore these signs of a stroke
In each minute of a stroke, your brain loses an estimated 1.9 million cells. Each hour a stroke goes untreated ages your brain the equivalent of three and a half years. The longer a stroke lasts or a patient doesn’t receive treatment, the greater chance of lingering speech difficulties, memory loss, or behavioral changes. The earlier a stroke is caught, the better the treatment options, which can minimize damage and improve the odds of a fuller recovery. “Stroke is scary. Denial is the biggest factor in delaying treatment. When I ask stroke patients in the ER why they waited to call 911, the most common response is that they wanted to see if it would go away,” says Carolyn Brockington, MD, director of the Mount Sinai Stroke Center in New York City. There are two kinds of stroke. An ischemic stroke means blocked blood vessels cause a reduction in blood flow in the brain. A hemorrhagic stroke means a ruptured blood vessel is leaking blood in the brain. Symptoms for both kinds of stroke can be the same. It’s important to call 911 as soon as you notice any potential signs of trouble.