Health Watch - Emergency: Detecting Stroke

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about responding to emergencies. When a stroke occurs, time is of the essence. That makes it important to recognize the signs so treatment can start right away.

A stroke occurs when bleeding or blood clots in the brain deprive brain cells of oxygen, killing them. There are treatments that can help save the brain, but they must be given within three hours of the stroke. Dr. Mark Johnson, a neurologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says one difficulty in identifying a stroke is that a stroke usually doesn’t hurt, so you need to learn the symptoms. Signs to look for include numbness, dizziness, mental confusion, coordination problems, vision problems or a severe headache — all of which come on suddenly. If you think someone is having a stroke, have the person smile, raise both arms and say a simple sentence. Call 911 immediately if the person can’t do any of these.

Visit www.utsouthwestern.org/neurosciences to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in neurosciences.

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November 2009


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