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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Stroke Awareness

Five years ago I was driving along a residential street, turned a corner and the world began to spin. I was able to pull over and stop the car. Eventually the spinning stopped and I was able to drive home, get inside and have my wife drive me to the emergency room. A couple of days of tests later, a CAT scan confirmed that I'd had a stroke, though I have no residual effects.

Looking back, I did have incidents of Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA) a couple of days before the stroke that should have been a warning, if I'd known the symptoms and known that, even though, I was only 52 at the time of the and not in what I thought was the normal stroke risk category...

I was wrong. And, I was (and am) very lucky.

Learn the symptoms of stroke, which are from here:
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
In some cases, you might experience a Transient Ischemic Attack described as:
A TIA is a "warning stroke" or "mini-stroke" that produces stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce your risk of a major stroke.

Most strokes aren't preceded by TIAs. However, of the people who've had one or more TIAs, more than a third will later have a stroke. In fact, a person who's had one or more TIAs is more likely to have a stroke than someone of the same age and sex who hasn't.

TIAs are important in predicting if a stroke will occur rather than when one will happen. They can occur days, weeks or even months before a major stroke. In about half the cases, the stroke occurs within one year of the TIA.
Symptoms of a TIA? Almost exactly like those of a stroke:
The usual TIA symptoms are the same as those of stroke, only temporary:

* 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

The short duration of these symptoms and lack of permanent brain injury is the main difference between TIA and stroke.
High blood pressure, diabetes, sickle cell disease, high cholesterol are major risk factors. In some cases, Factor V Leiden may be a factor especially if you have other risk factors.

Losing weight, controlling blood pressure and chloestoral are important. Plavix, aspirin, and other modern drugs can help.

So, the news of Senator Tim Johnson's condition from here, is a reminder of the need for stroke awareness. You might also note in the article that Senator Reid had a TIA recently.

I wish Senator Johnson a full recovery.

And I wish that politics would not be a part of this.

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