According to the results of a recent Mayo Clinic study, most people having a stroke don’t know they’re having one. Most people don’t know the symptoms of stroke – and this is crucial, because early treatment for a stroke can mean the difference between minor injury to a small part of the brain, and major injury causing severe and permanent disability.
To gain these results, the Mayo Clinic studied a total of 400 people who were diagnosed with stroke in the clinic’s emergency department. The patients were diagnosed with either transient ischemic attack, or acute ischemic stroke, both of which describe a condition in which blood flow to part of the brain is temporarily interrupted.
According to the Mayo Clinic’s results, just 42% of people diagnosed with stroke actually thought they were having a stroke. Most people included in the study did not go to the emergency room when they began having symptoms – in fact, the median time between symptom onset and arrival at the emergency room was 3.5 hours. Most people said they did not seek treatment earlier because they thought the symptoms would go away on their own.
When asked what they knew about the symptoms of stroke, almost 20% said they thought the symptoms of stroke appeared gradually. Just under 52% said they thought it was important to seek immediate medical treatment.
Symptoms of Stroke
The researchers say that time is critical when it comes to getting treatment for stroke. The sooner medical care is sought and obtained, the more likely it is that damage done to the brain can be kept to a minimum. Often, if the patient is treated early enough, the blood clot can be dissolved using medication, allowing normal blood flow to return before any significant damage is done to the brain.
Symptoms of stroke include the following:
- Sudden onset of numbness, weakness, or paralysis of the face, arm or leg (usually on only one side of the body).
- Sudden difficulty in speaking or in understanding words
- Sudden blurred, decreased, or double vision
- Sudden dizziness, loss of coordination, or loss of balance
- Sudden severe headache or unusual headache. The pain may be accompanied by facial pain, pain between the eyes, stiff neck, vomiting, or altered feeling of consciousness.
- Confusion, memory problems, perception problems, or difficulty with spatial orientation.
The symptoms of stroke are of sudden onset and often occur without warning. However, in some cases, a transient ischemic attack may signal an impending stroke. The transient ischemic attack has similar symptoms as a stroke, but they last for a much shorter period of time (between several minutes and a few hours).