Don’t Get Sidelined by a Stroke

Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak has brought on a national discussion on “mini strokes” after he collapsed at halftime during Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Spot A Stroke F.A.S.T.The team released that he suffered a transient ischemic attack, a condition that temporarily stops blood flow to the brain and causes stroke-like symptoms.

“Within the first three hours of developing stroke symptoms, a clot-busting injection (intravenous tPA) can be given to the patient,” said Dr. Samir Shah, medical director of the stroke center at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. “This is the only FDA approved treatment for acute stroke and greatly increases the chance of a good outcome after a stroke.”

Unfortunately, only a small minority of stroke patients receive treatment. Many patients do not qualify because their symptoms are not recognized as a stroke, and they arrive to the hospital too late. The faster this drug is given the higher the chance of a good outcome.

“Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a stroke quickly can make a difference in treating the patient,” Shah said. “Use the letters in FAST to remember these warning signs.”

  • Facial weakness-Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face drop?
  • Arm and leg weakness-Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Is there leg weakness?
  • Speech problems-Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred? Can he/she repeat a sentence correctly?
  • Time is critical-If the person shows any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Be sure to note the time of the first symptom.

Shah added: “This is another reason to call 911. Emergency medical personnel can give advance notice to a certified stroke center such as Texas Health Dallas, and the stroke team will be awaiting the arrival of the patient.”

According to the American Heart Association, other symptoms of stroke can include a severe headache, loss of balance and coordination and sudden vision problems in one or both eyes.

While a stroke is more common in older adults it can occur at any age and is the fourth leading cause of death for all Americans. Several key risk factors include hypertension, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, and smoking.

To learn more about the treatment, signs and symptoms of stroke, visit TexasHealth.org/Stroke.

Physicians on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.

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