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Stroke signals

Illustration by Brian Cronin

“In the last 10 years, the ability to intervene and save the brain from dying after stroke has increased exponentially,” says Stephen Haines, M.D., chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota. “These treatments work—if the patient gets to the hospital within a certain window of opportunity.”

Those advances, Haines says, mean that we should think about strokes the way we think about heart attacks: “The instant there are any symptoms, people need to get to the hospital.” Any of these symptoms can be a sign of stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing with one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

By Richard Broderick

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