Despite all the high-tech advances being tested at UAB, the most effective treatment for stroke is already in your living room—you just have to have the courage to use it. Picking up the telephone and calling 911 is the best way to ensure survival once symptoms appear, says neurologist Andrei Alexandrov, M.D., but most people put off that call and don’t come in to the emergency room until it’s too late.
Actually, Alexandrov says, the best way to beat stroke is to prevent it in the first place by controlling risk factors: high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and heart disease. Barring that, a quick response to the first warning signs of stroke can mean the difference between life and death, he says.
At the first sign of the following symptoms, seek medical help immediately; remember the term FLASH:
• F = Sudden weakness or drooping of one side of the face.
• L = Sudden weakness or clumsiness of one leg.
• A = Sudden weakness or clumsiness of one arm.
• S = Sudden difficulty with speech, inability to find the right words to say or to understand speech, or sudden onset of slurred speech.
• H = Sudden onset of the worst headache of your life
Other less-common symptoms that may be noteworthy for stroke include a sudden onset of visual changes or loss of vision, and a sudden onset of dizziness or coordination in movement.