Stroke victims rarely get clot-busting drug fast enough

May 26, 2013 at 11:48 PM
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DALLAS, May 26 (UPI) -- A stroke's typical warning signs can be so subtle its victims don't seek medical attention soon enough to receive effective treatment, a U.S. neurologist says.

Dr. Mark Goldberg, chairman of neurology and neurotherapeutics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, says too few people recognize the symptoms of a stroke and as a result, only 5 percent of stroke victims receive the effective clot-busting drug called tPA.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends tPA be administered within 3 hours of a stroke.

"People must become more aware of the clinical symptoms of stroke so that they can seek treatment," Goldberg said in a statement. "Educating Americans about strokes and stroke care is so important."

Sudden problems with vision, walking and speaking are stroke indicators. So is sudden paralysis, droopiness, or numbness on one side of the face or body. Another potential symptom is a sudden, severe headache that can be accompanied by vomiting or dizziness."

The neurologist says most strokes don't immediately render people unconscious, so many victims simply think they are tired and in need of a nap.

Stroke-victim advocates have developed the acronym FAST to describe both what should be done. FAST stands for:

-- Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

-- Arms: Ask the person to raise their arms parallel to the ground. Does one arm drift down?

-- Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or gibberish?

-- Time: If any of these symptoms are present, call 911 immediately.

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