Terri Miller: Warning signs of a stroke

Terri Miller

A stroke is a brain attack that happens when the blood stops flowing to the brain, preventing oxygen to get to the brain and causing brain cells to die. A transient ischemic attack is a mini stroke. They do not cause permanent damage, but they are serious warning signs of a stroke and should not be ignored.

The symptoms of a TIA and a stroke are basically the same. The symptoms may be the following:

1. Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg.

2. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.

3. Sudden trouble seeing.

4. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.

TIAs are caused by a blood clot in another part of the body, low blood flow at a narrow part of a major artery or narrowing of a smaller blood vessel in the brain. You can use this tool to help recognize stroke symptoms:

F = Face: ask the person to smile. Does one side droop?

A = Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S = Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?

T = Time: If you observe any of these signs, then it’s time to call 911.

There are some guidelines that will help you learn how to lower your stroke risk.

- Know your blood pressure.

- Find out if you have atrial fibrillation.

- If you smoke, stop.

- If you drink alcohol, do it sparingly.

- Have your cholesterol checked.

- If you are a diabetic, follow your doctor’s advice.

- Exercise.

- Lower salt intake.

- Ask your doctor if you have circulation problems.

TIAs can be managed. There are many medicines that help prevent blood clots from forming, reducing the risk of a full-blown stroke. If a TIA is caused by blockage in the main artery, surgery may be required to open up the artery and prevent a stroke. Ask the doctor about stroke prevention options that are available for you. Then take responsibility and enjoy life.

Terri Miller, LNHA, is the Administrator of Maple Tree Terrace Assisted Living in Carthage, Mo. She is also a guest columnist for The Carthage Press. She can be reached at carthage@americareusa.net.