It is important to know how to treat a stroke. This medical emergency happens when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. New treatments can often minimize stroke-related disability, but it is important to go to the hospital as quickly as possible so that these treatments can be used. If you or a loved one may be having a stroke, follow these important steps.
- It is critical that you and your family members know the signs of a stroke so that you can receive medical care as quickly as possible. Go to the hospital immediately if you experience sudden numbness in the face, arm or leg; confusion; trouble seeing, speaking or understanding speech; dizziness or loss of balance or a sudden severe headache.
- Once you visit the emergency room, doctors will most likely treat your stroke with a drug called t-PA, which dissolves the blood clots that are blocking the blood flow to the brain. To be evaluated for stroke and receive this treatment, however, you must arrive at the hospital within 60 minutes of the onset of symptoms. The optimum window for stroke treatment is three hours. Stroke patients who received t-PA within three hours were at least 30 percent more likely to recover with little or no disability after three months than those who did not.
- The best way to treat potential stroke is through prevention. Some ways you can minimize your risk for stroke include working with your doctor to lower high blood pressure through lifestyle changes or medication. If you have diabetes, make sure to manage the disease. Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly, and avoid smoking.
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