When it comes to having a stroke, with a sudden loss of movement, speech, thought processes, or consciousness – the quick response to get to 911 and get the patient to the hospital is paramount. Once in the hospital, sometimes a "clot buster" drug can be used, just like in heart attacks, to restore function. There are very strict timeline and symptom criteria for use of such "clot busters" in the setting of an acute stroke – "cerebrovascular accident" or CVA.
Stroke is a medical emergency. Know these warning signs of stroke and teach them to others. Every second counts:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
Call 9-1-1 immediately if you experience symptoms!
Time lost is brain lost!
But how does the doctor know if a stroke has happened and where is the stroke? New modalities of computerized tomography of the brain (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other imaging techniques tell the doctors more information about the stroke.
Some strokes are not the "clot or blocking artery" type – as some are bleeding types and yet others are "embolic" types, or clots that have travelled from some other area of the body.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of NIH has conducted the largest study of these patients to determine which imaging study might be best to see the stroke in the brain.
A non-dye MRI showed five times the sensitivity compared to and twice the accuracy of a non-dye CT scan. Both MRI and CT not using dye again, were about equal in seeing the bleeding type of stroke.
Independent neuroradiologists read the studies and both studies were conducted on each patient in the study. Of the 356 patients with suspected stroke, the MRI showed superior for diagnosis.
If you or anyone you know, develops sudden loss of speech, motor control in an arm or leg, loss of consciousness, or confusion – call 911 immediately. Time is so important in this disease. Just as in a heart attack, let your doctor know of any concerns you have with regard to stroke.