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The First Few Hours After a Stroke

When you have a stroke, time is crucial. If you have any stroke symptoms, go to the hospital right away. Do not delay! The earlier treatment is started after symptoms begin, the more likely you are to survive and have a good recovery. Your doctor can be alerted while you are traveling to the hospital. Any relatives or friends who were with you when your symptoms started should go with you to the hospital. You and they should write down and remember when your first stroke symptoms began, since your doctor will need this information to select the best treatment choices for your stroke.

At the Emergency Room

In the hospital, a healthcare provider will assess your symptoms and ask when they began. You will also be asked about your medical history. You’ll also be asked about your health and risk factors. Family or friends can answer if you cannot. Tests are then done. You will likely have blood tests. You may also have a CT scan or an MRI. This will help determine what kind of stroke you have. The two types are blockage (ischemic stroke) or bleeding (hemorrhagic stroke). The type is important to know before treatment is started. This is because treatment that helps an ischemic stroke can kill a person who had a hemorrhagic stroke.

Acute-Phase Stroke Treatment

Treatment can begin as soon as your doctor knows what type of stroke you had and when it occurred. Phase one begins from the first minutes to the first hours after you began having symptoms. It involves one or more of the following, depending on what kind of stroke you have:

  • Medication to dissolve clots (ischemic)

  • Medication to prevent blood clots (ischemic)

  • Tests to look for damage from the stroke

  • Procedures to stop bleeding (hemorrhagic)

The goal of the acute phase treatment is to minimize damage from the stroke. After the first several hours, treatment turns to your recovery and to preventing future strokes.

Symptoms of Stroke

Call 911 right away if you have any of the following, even if the symptom seems to get better:

  • Weakness in an arm, hand, and/or leg.

  • Numbness on one side of the body.

  • Sudden dimness or loss of vision, particularly in one eye or on one side.

  • Sudden difficulty speaking.

  • Inability to understand what someone is saying.

  • Sudden dizziness or loss of balance.

  • Sudden, excruciating headache, unlike headaches you’ve had before, or a severe headache accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

If you are at risk for having a stroke:

  • Keep a list of important telephone numbers next to your phone. Include your healthcare provider and the relatives or friends you want to be contacted.

  • Carry a list of all medications you take, and the dosage of each, in your wallet. Include over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements.

  • Write a brief medical history, including any other medical problems you have had and the dates. Keep this with the medication list.


Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 5/15/2011
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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