You may know of the classic symptoms of a stroke; sudden drooping of the
face, difficulty speaking and weakness in the arm. Those symptoms should
set off alarms in your mind — it’s time to call 911. Yet research
shows too many people ignore the signs of a “warning stroke”
or a “mini-stroke,” which can precede a more serious attack.
A stroke is the stoppage of blood flow to the brain; either because of
a blood clot or a weakened or burst blood vessel. Brain cells begin to
die without oxygen, possibly leading to brain damage or even death.
What makes a minis-stroke or a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) different
from an actual stroke is that blockage is temporary. The blood flow to
the brain resumes without medical intervention. When the symptoms go away,
people tend to think the danger is over. However, you are more likely
to have a full stroke after experiencing a TIA. Cardiovascular Clinician
Celeste Stevens BSN, RN makes sure the stroke program at Iredell Memorial
meets and exceeds national standards.
“Whether or not the symptoms continue, call 911,” said Stevens.
“With the proper diagnosis and treatment, it’s possible to
stop a full blown stroke from happening after a TIA.”
Last year the American Heart Association released the results from research
that found about one in three Americans have had symptoms of a TIA. Only
three percent of those people sought immediate medical attention. TIA
symptoms resemble those of a stroke, including weakness or numbness on
one side of the body, slurred speech, blindness or double vision, dizziness
and a sudden, severe headache.
“The key to recognizing the symptoms of a stroke or a TIA is how
quickly the symptoms begin,” said Stevens. “The onset is sudden
and the symptoms have no other apparent cause.”
Treatment for a TIA can include lifestyle changes, medication and sometimes
surgery to prevent a stroke in the future.
“Timing is important, whether you are having a full blown stroke
or a TIA,” said Stevens. “In the case of a stroke, we only
have a short period of time to administer a clot-busting drug that can
drastically improve your chances of survival and lower your chances of
a life-altering disability.”
Iredell Memorial is a Primary Stroke Center, which means there are trained
staff and procedures in place to diagnose and treat stroke patients.
“We see too many people who wait to get help or have someone drive
them to the hospital,” said Stevens. “You should always call
911. That starts the response immediately, even before you get to the
hospital. When it comes to stroke, there’s no time to waste.”