Wednesday, December 13, 2006

With strokes, time is of the essence

In recent weeks, a couple family members of friends of mine -- one in his sixties, and one in her twenties -- have had strokes, which is why the Jane Brody health column in the NYT this week caught my eye. In the wake of Senator Tim Johnson's apparent stroke this afternoon, Brody's article seems especially timely. As Brody cautioned her readers, minutes count when it comes to strokes.
This treatment, with a drug called t-PA (for tissue plasminogen activator), can help dissolve a brain-damaging clot in thehttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif 80 percent of victims who have strokes caused by them. But it must be administered within three hours of a stroke to be effective, and the sooner the better.

About only one stroke victim in five who could benefit from t-PA receives it, primarily because people don’t realize a stroke is happening and wait too long to get to the hospital.
Medical experts are trying to help people react more quickly by summarizing the warning signs and what to do in an acronym, FAST.
  • Face weakness or numbness, droopy mouth or crooked smile.
  • Arm or leg weakness or numbness.
  • Speech difficulty in understanding or speaking.
  • Time to call 911.
According to early news reports, the South Dakota Democrat was able to get medical care very quickly. Here's hoping that Senator Johnson makes a speedy and full recovery.

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