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December 2005

LIFE LETTER MATURE

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How to recognize the symptoms of a stroke

A stroke is an interruption or blockage of blood flow to the brain. It can be caused by a blood clot or a burst blood vessel. Either deprives the brain of oxygen and nutrients in the blood. Brain cells in the effected area will die if blood flow is not restored quickly.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, there are between 40,000 and 50,000 strokes in Canada each year. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in Canada. There are about 300,000 Canadians living with the effects of stroke today. Each year, about 16,000 Canadians die from stroke. Even though the risk of stroke doubles every ten years after age 55, it can occur at any age.

The American Stroke Association lists these stroke warning signs:

  • 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 in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

Doug stumbled and fell. His friend. Sally, saw this happen. He seemed more than a little disoriented as a result of his fall. She was very concerned and had the insight to ask Doug the three questions.

He failed all three test questions, so 9-1-1 was called immediately. Doug had a normal blood pressure reading and did not appear to be suffering from a stroke. He could converse to some extent with the paramedics, but they still rushed him to the hospital. Doug had, in fact, suffered brain damage after having a stroke, but is recovering rapidly because he was able to receive immediate treatment.

The results of a study designed by Jane H. Brice, M.D. were presented at the 2003 International Stroke Conference. The study examined whether members of the public could effectively use a simple three-item examination that healthcare professionals use, known as the Cincinnati Prehospital Stroke Scale (CPSS). With the help of several stroke survivors who still displayed symptoms, the study indicated that bystanders were able to identify stroke symptoms 96% of the time using the following three test questions:

  • Ask the person to SMILE.
  • Ask the person to RAISE BOTH ARMS and keep them up.
  • Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE coherently (for example, "It is sunny out today").
This article is for information purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.

Want help with your retirement planning?

Call Hans Mathisen today at (306)242-7042.
or email -
hans@mathisen.ca

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Mathisen Financial, Inc.
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Email:
hans@mathisen.ca