November 25, 2008

Most having a stroke don’t know it

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., say most stroke patients don't think they're having a stroke -- and as a result, delay treatment.

Lead author Dr. Latha Stead studied 400 patients who were diagnosed at Mayo Clinic's emergency department with either acute ischemic stroke or a transient ischemic attack, a temporary interruption of blood flow to part of the brain.

Forty-two percent say they thought they were having a stroke, but most did not go to the emergency room when symptoms appeared.

The median time from onset of symptoms to arrival at the hospital was over 3 1/2 hours. Most said they thought the symptoms would simply go away. The delay in seeking medical help was the same among men and women.

Stroke symptoms include:

-- Sudden numbness, weakness, or paralysis of your face, arm or leg.

-- Sudden difficulty speaking.

-- Sudden blurred, double or decreased vision.

-- Sudden dizziness, loss of balance.

-- A sudden, severe bolt out of the blue headache or an unusual headache.

-- Confusion or problems with memory, spatial orientation or perception.