Knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke can save a life. Awareness of those signs and symptoms is the key. Last Sunday night, Millions of American households were watching a football game between the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts, when the focus shifted to Coach Gary Kubiak, who collapsed on the sidelines.
Speculation was rampant. Did he have a heart attack, a stroke, stress, dehydration? The answer was a TIA(Transient Ischemic Attack). A (TIA) is when blood flow to a part of the brain stops for a brief period of time. A person will have stroke-like symptoms for up to 24 hours, but in most cases for 1 – 2 hours. With a TIA, the body’s defenses act on their own to dissolve the clot.
The symptoms of TIA are the same as the symptoms of a stroke, and include sudden:
Abnormal feeling of movement (vertigo) or dizziness
Change in alertness (sleepiness, less responsive, unconscious, or in a coma)
Changes in feeling, including touch, pain, temperature, pressure, hearing, and taste
Confusion or loss of memory
Difficulty writing or reading
Drooping of the face
Inability to recognize objects or people
Lack of control over the bladder or bowels
Lack of coordination and balance, clumsiness, or trouble walking
Loss of vision in one or both eyes
Numbness or tingling on one side of the body
Personality, mood, or emotional changes
Trouble saying or understanding words
Weakness on one side of the body
The danger with a TIA, is not that it is improperly treated, but rather than an opportunity to treat an oncoming stroke is missed. You see, TIA often serves as a warning of an impending stroke. Thus, patients suspected of a TIA should remain at the hospital to determine the cause and appropriate medication going forward, and most importantly to prevent the devastating effects of a stroke
33% of people who suffer a TIA eventually have a full stroke, often within a year.
10% of people who have a TIA will have a stroke within 3 months, with half of those strokes occurring within the 48 hours after a TIA.
It is this failure to recognize the signs and symptoms of A TIA, that leads to a number of Medical Malpractice claims.
The math is simple, if you are at an increased risk of stroke following a TIA, admit the patient to the hospital, and try to determine what is causing the blockage.
High blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and blood disorders should be treated as needed.
A patient with a TIA may receive blood thinners, such as aspirin, to reduce blood clotting.
Some people who have clogged neck arteries may need surgery (carotid endarterectomy).
Patients who have irregular heartbeats (atrial fibrillation), you will be treated to avoid future complications. Also, patients with Atrial Fibrillation are at an increased risk of stroke.
Finally, and most importantly, if the patient is in the hospital when they suffer a stroke, there is a greater chance they will be diagnosed and treated timely. To that end, once stroke symptoms start to set in, the nurses have three hours to administer the drug tPA – “Tissue Plasminogen Activator.” If the doctors wait more than three hours to administer this drug, it may be too late. The result will be permanent brain damage or death. That is why patients who suffer a TIA need to be admitted for observation and nurses need to check on their patients at least every two hours to test for warning signs.
Hopefully by watching this event unfold on national television, the public will have a greater awareness about the signs and symptoms of a TIA.