Prevent stroke from affecting your life

"Stroke can cause a range of residual deficits from easy fatigue to death," said MaryEllen Dougherty, senior physical therapist at St. Camillus. "Delaying treatment can result in missing out on the opportunity to receive a medical or surgical intervention to limit the extent of the stroke, and thereby, cause more extensive brain damage. 'Time lost is brain lost.'"

Symptoms of stroke

The American Stroke Association says the following symptoms warrant prompt medical attention:

Sudden numbness of 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 walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

Symptoms do not vary with sex, age or ethnicity, Dougherty said, adding that as soon as any of the signs and symptoms are noted above, 911 should be called.

"The advent of interventions immediately following the onset of stroke symptoms has greatly improved the outcomes of those receiving the treatments," she said.

Dougherty listed a number of limitations, both temporary and permanent, that a stroke can cause. Those can include a deficit in speaking or understanding; difficulty with reading, judgment and higher level reasoning; weakness or lack of coordination of the muscles on one side of the body resulting in difficulty with moving and walking. Stroke survivors may also have trouble bathing and dressing them selves, she said, as well as doing regular household tasks.

"Loss of sensation on one side of the body puts them at risk for falls, scalding injuries and difficulty driving," Dougherty said.

Who's at risk of having a stroke?

A stroke can happen to any one, but they are more prevalent in women than in men, in blacks than in whites, in adults than in children and in older adults than in young adults, Dougherty said, adding that greater danger increases with age, in both men and women.

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