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Time is brain--Know the symptoms of a stroke and get prompt care

Stroke is the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States and the number one cause of disability. According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year an estimated 795,000 people in this country experience a stroke. the No. 1 cause of adult disability?

Did you know that approximately 20 percent of strokes occur in people younger than age 55, and over the past decade?

But, prompt action can greatly reduce the risk of severe disability and death following a stroke.  It is important to recognize the signs of a stroke and get the victim to a hospital so that prompt treatment can be instituted.  There is now an accepted FDA approved medication known as TPA, a clot busting drug which if administered within the first several hours following a stroke can lead to full recovery.

If you see any one of these "Five Sudden, Severe Symptoms," call 911 -- regardless of the victim's age.

• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg on one side of the body.

• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.

• Sudden trouble seeing on one side.

• Sudden, severe difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.

• Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

It is important to emphasize the words "sudden" and "severe" and the number "one." Any of these symptoms can occur in a mild, fleeting way and not be worrisome, but if any one of them comes on suddenly and is quite severe, it could signal the onset of a stroke, which increasingly is described as a "brain attack," because like a heart attack, a stroke requires immediate action to improve the odds against disability and death.

The medical profession has a saying, Time is brain. The crucial element is time. Rapid transport to a hospital and followed by rapid administration of the clot busting drug greatly improves the chances for a better outcome.

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