May is National Stroke Awareness Month: Educators Urge Public to Learn the Early Signs of Illness

lozadad May 1, 2012 2


By Lisa Warshaw
UT Southwestern Medical Center

A stroke’s typical warning signs often are so subtle that its victims don’t seek medical attention soon enough to receive effective treatment, a UT Southwestern Medical Center neurologist says.

Dr. Mark Goldberg, chairman of neurology and neurotherapeutics at UT Southwestern, says too few people recognize the symptoms of a stroke. As a result, just 5 percent of stroke victims receive an effective clot-busting drug called tPA, which the Food and Drug Administration recommends be administered within three hours of a stroke. Stroke is the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 133,000 people annually. There are about 795,000 strokes reported nationally each year, and about 53 percent of those affected (425,000) are women.

“People must become more aware of the clinical symptoms of stroke so that they can seek treatment,” Dr. Goldberg says. “Educating Americans about strokes and stroke care is so important.”

Sudden problems with vision, walking, and speaking are stroke indicators, Dr. Goldberg says. So is sudden paralysis, droopiness, or numbness on one side of the face or body. Another potential symptom is a sudden, severe headache that can be accompanied by vomiting or dizziness.

The neurologist says most strokes don’t immediately render people unconscious, so many victims simply think they are tired and in need of a nap.

Stroke-victim advocates have developed the acronym FAST to describe both what should be done and the pace at which it should be undertaken. FAST stands for:

· Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

· Arms: Ask the person to raise their arms parallel to the ground. Does one arm drift down?

· Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or gibberish?

· Time: If any of these symptoms are present, call 911 immediately.

Visit for more information on UT Southwestern’s clinical services, including for strokes and other neurovascular disorders.



  1. Yasara June 28, 2012 at 1:11 pm - Reply

    The signs and symptoms of srotke are varied depending on what part of the brain the srotke has taken place in. Stroke symptoms appear as many signs and symptoms from the patient, or others that observe them. If the clot is in the frontal lobe near the central sulcus of the cerebral cortex, then signs of motor deficits will be shown (i.e. complete atonia of one side of the body including limb paralysis, facial drooping, etc.) and will present on either side of the body depending on which cerebral hemisphere is affected. If the srotke embolis is located in the occipital lobe, then there will be vision loss, or complete blindness in one eye; again depending on which cerebral hemisphere is affected by the clot. If the srotke is located in the parietal lobe, then sensory deficits will be effected,(i.e. sense of touch altered, tingling of the limbs, altered or absent smell; and if deeper in the parietal lobe, a condition called Wernicke’s Aphasia is present. Wernicke’s Aphasia is a srotke symptom that causes the pt to be unable to speak do to the inability to process sensory information present such as someone talking to them. Although strange, the patient suffering from Wernicke’s Aphasia has the full ability to speak, but cannot because of the inability to process sensory imput. A srotke in the temporal lobe of the cerebrum causes what is called Broca’s Aphasia. In Broca’s Aphasia, the patient is fully able to understand and comprehend sensory imput, such as speech and language, and is able to process thought, and language responses based on exogenous stimuli. However, in Broca’s Aphasia, the pt is unable to communicate verbally to stimuli such as speech to the patient. A CT scan is the first diagnostic tomographical test that is used to determine the location of the clot, and to tell whether the srotke is thromboembolic or hemmorhagic. If the CT scan doesn’t give a good definitive diagnosis or answer, then a PET scan may be beneficial in conjuntion with the CT scan to give a clear picture and diagnosis. There are many different types of srotkes; it will take too long to explain each and every type. Thromboembolic srotke, explained in the above examples, is either an embolus blocking arterial and venous bloodflow to a certain part of the brain. These can range from emboli blocking large arteries in the brain, and causing greater motor, sensory, and cognitive deficits to the patient; a lacunar infarct is a blockage of the smaller vessels of the brain, usually by what is called white thrombi that has broken loose from an arterial plaque, or clot. Lacunar infacrts don’t cause as much deficit because it isn’t disrupting as much bloodflow to the brain. Cardiogenic srotke is a srotke that is due to a clot forming in the heart from, (atrial fibrillation, left ventricular dysfunction, or other cardiac arrythmias) and passes out of the aortic valve, and is transported to the brain from the ascending aorta through the Carotid artery and lodges in a place in the brain. There is another type of srotke called Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), or also Mini-stroke . TIA’s are thromboembolic srotkes that’s clot is smaller, and doesn’t completely occlud a cerebral artery; thus allowing some bloodflow to continue in the area. TIA’s present as any other thromboembolic srotke, but the patient usually regains 100% functionally in 24 to 48 hours. There is a type of srotke called hemmoragic srotke, that is very rare compared to a thromboembolic srotke. A hemmoragic srotke is due to the rupture of a cerebral artery, or vein. This type of srotke is the most dangerous due to the rapid onset of signs and symptoms, and the imperitive quickness in which it must be treated.The symptoms that you have mentioned above are not those of a srotke, because they are absent of the signs and symptoms of either a thromboembolic srotke, or hemmoraghic srotke. The symptoms mentioned above point to stress from school and life, that is causing anxiety and depression. Anxiety can cause headaches, inability to focus, and gastrointestinal problems that can cause chest pain. Depression secondary or due to the anxiety also causes headaches, general malaise, and mental cloudiness (problems focusing). You might speak to your primary care physician about these symptoms. He or She can confirm this diagnosis after considering your symptoms, and can also determine if there are any physiological causes of your symptoms, (i.e. hypothyroidism, adrenocortical insufficiency, pernicious or iron defiency anemia, hypothalamic-pituitary axis conditions, etc). If there are no significant underlying physiological causes, then they could treat the symptoms with medications (pharmacologic treatment), and non-medicinal treatment (non-pharmacological treatment strategies). The best treatment is the combination of both. Starting medication treatment with an anti-depressant (SSRI,SNRI, or atypical antidepressant such as buproprion). SSRI stands for selective serotonin reup

  2. Ludymilla June 30, 2012 at 6:29 am - Reply

    March 31, 2010Great advice. I’m recovering from a stroke with mild aphasia (thankfully improved greatly through the help of some great Speech Language Therapists), and my dear friend’s mom is in assisted living with an earlier stage of dementia. Throughout a series of institutions, I’m amazed at the lack of practical guidance provided to the loved ones, even at some of the best institutions (with notable exceptions!). I was lucky in that my best friend and Health Care Proxy had a great ally, ironically she was the from my insurance carrier. It’s good to find a friend..-= Eilish s last blog .. =-.

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