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Stroke Warnings Often Ignored

Despite much effort to educate the public to the warning signs of stroke, a new study released by the American College of Emergency Physicians concludes that the elderly either fail to recognize the signs of an impending stroke or fail to follow up with immediate emergency care. 

The study found that patients were afraid to go to the emergency room because they feared dying alone.  Other's didn't want to inconvenience family or friends by asking to go to the hospital.  Many didn't believe that they were actually having a stroke despite being knowledgeable about stroke symptoms. 

The researchers studied 344 stroke patients in emergency rooms.  All were over 65 years of age and 41 percent were over 80.  On average, patients delays seeking treatment three hours from the onset of symptoms.  Some patients waited over a week.  Only half the patients believed that they were having a stroke or a TIA, a transient ischemic attack that is ofter a precursor to a stroke.

It's important that we get the word out that it is important that individuals who are experiencing the signs and symptoms of a stroke, seek immediate medical attention.  The first three hours after a stroke are critical.  Often clot-busting medication can be administered that will prevent a full blown stroke from taking place.

Stroke symptoms include slurred words, inability to formulate words, numbness and weakness on one side of the body, severe headache, trouble seeing in one or both eyes, confusion and trouble understanding speech, facial droop and difficulty in walking including loss of balance and coordination.

TIA's which are temporary blockages of the arteries that feed the brain are often precursors to a stroke.  The symptoms of the same as a stroke but disappear after 10 or 15 minutes.  Immediate emergency care following a TIA is essential to prevent a stroke from occuring.




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