One of the daunting challenges of a stroke is knowing that it's even happening.
"I think the most people don't recognize stroke symptoms as easily as, say, cardiac symptoms," says Shyam Prabhakaran, MD, a stroke neurologist at Rush University Medical Center.
"When somebody has chest pain, it's a pretty strong indication that something is wrong in the middle of the chest," says Prabhakaran, head of the stroke program at Rush. "Whereas when somebody has problems writing, it's not always clear to people that it's connected to the brain."
Strokes occur when clots block arteries that supply blood to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain breaks. They are the leading cause of adult disability and the second leading cause of death worldwide.
Here are some of the possible warning signs:
- Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, particularly on one side of the body
- Trouble speaking
- Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
- Trouble walking or dizziness
- Facial droop or asymmetry
- A severe headache or "the worst headache of your life"
If you think you or someone else may be having a stroke, it's crucial to act quickly and seek medical care. And Prabhakaran strongly recommends erring on the side of caution.
"As soon as symptoms start, don't wait, don't think it's going to necessarily pass, don't sleep on it," he says, "because all those things could be precious time lost."
More Information at Your Fingertips:
- For more information about stroke treatment and services at Rush, visit the Rush Stroke Program home page.
- Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (888 352-7874)
Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.
If you enjoyed this article and are not already a subscriber, subscribe today to Discover Rush Online. You'll receive health information, breaking medical news and helpful tips for maintaining your health each month via e-mail.