Every year, more than 700,000 Americans suffer a stroke, with stroke being the third leading cause of death in the nation. Survival and recovery depends on two key factors: how quickly patients receive treatment and how comprehensive the treatment is.
Stroke, also known as “brain attack,” is a medical emergency. Prompt treatment of a stroke could mean the difference between life and death. Early treatment can minimize damage to the brain and reduce disability.
For most people, a stroke gives no warning. But one possible sign of an impending stroke is a transient ischemic attack (TIA). A TIA, also known as a mini stroke, is a temporary interruption of blood flow to a part of the brain. TIA symptoms, which usually occur suddenly, are similar to those of stroke but do not last as long. Most symptoms of TIA disappear within an hour, although they can persist for up to 24 hours.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke can make it possible to get medical help right away. Do not wait to see if symptoms pass or worsen. Know the signs and act fast. The signs and symptoms of stroke usually occur suddenly; frequently, there is more than one.
Know the Signs of Stroke
- Sudden numbness, weakness or paralysis of your face, arm or leg—usually on one side of the body.
- Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding speech.
- Sudden blurred, double or decreased vision.
- Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or loss of coordination.
- A sudden, severe, “bolt out of the blue” headache or an unusual headache, which may be accompanied by a stiff neck, facial pain, pain between the eyes, vomiting or altered consciousness.
- Confusion, or problems with memory, spatial orientation or perception.
“If you observe or experience one or more of these symptoms, don’t delay. Call 9-1-1 immediately. Note the time when the first symptoms appeared. This information is important to your healthcare provider and can affect treatment decisions. A clot-busting drug can reduce the long-term disability caused by stroke if given within three hours of the start of symptoms,” said Cooper neurologist and stroke specialist Thomas R. Mirsen, M.D.
If you think someone might be having a stroke, the National Stroke Association offers this simple test:
- Face—Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
- Arms—Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- Speech—Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred? Can the person repeat the sentence correctly?
- Time—If the person shows any of these symptoms, time is important. Call 9-1-1 or get to the hospital fast. Brain cells are dying.
Stroke Treatment at a Primary Stroke Center
As designated by the New Jersey Department of Health, the Cooper Stroke Center at Cooper University Hospital is distinguished as a Primary Stroke Center. Cooper earned the distinction by meeting rigorous requirements in stroke treatment and care, including the availability of advanced emergency care 24 hours a day, seven days a week; neurological physician experts; and superior patient outcomes.
Also, Cooper offers unmatched access in the Delaware Valley to coordination and transfer of seriously ill stroke patients. The Cooper Transfer System, called COTS, provides 24/7 air or land transfer of seriously ill stroke patients from more than 20 community hospitals throughout South Jersey.
“The clinical expertise of our multi-disciplinary team of neurologists, neurosurgeons, radiologists, specially trained nurses and rehabilitation therapists at the Cooper Stroke Center provides patients with superior emergency treatment in the critical first hours after a stroke, as well as comprehensive after-care and rehabilitation,” Dr. Mirsen said.
“With a complication rate less than half the national average and a survival rate double the national average, patients at the Cooper Stroke Center can be assured that they are getting the best neurological care in South Jersey,” Dr. Mirsen said.
For more information about the Cooper Stroke Center and the Cooper Neurological Institute or to schedule an appointment, please call 1-800-8-COOPER (800-826-6737) to speak with a member of our staff.