Do you know the symptoms of a cerebral vascular accident? Some recent reports suggest that both the public as well as many emergency rooms might miss the early signs.
Published in the journal Diagnosis 2014, a research study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine estimated that in the United States, every year up to 165,000 people who are having a stroke come to the emergency room and are misdiagnosed. Stroke has been called “among the most common dangerous missed diagnoses”.
Not all people presenting with a stroke have obvious symptoms, and the people with more subtle symptoms are the ones typically misdiagnosed. If someone comes into the emergency room with paralysis of one side of their body, the diagnosis is rarely missed, but people who come to the hospital with lesser signs such as dizziness, headache or temporary numbness can easily be misdiagnosed.
A stroke is due to either a blockage in a blood vessel in the brain, or, less often, a brain blood vessel that breaks and bleeds. Both types cause brain damage because part of the brain is deprived of blood supply. The symptoms a patient suffers is dependent upon where in the brain the blood vessel problem occurs.
But no matter what the symptoms are or where in the brain the vascular accident occurs, rapid treatment in a hospital can greatly lower the risk of death or permanent disability, so recognition of the symptoms is important.
People at higher risk of stroke include those over age 55, smokers, and people with high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Also, blacks and people with a family history of cardiovascular disease have a higher risk.
According to the studies, the people who have a higher risk of being misdiagnosed when they are having a stroke include women and younger people, and a research study from Columbia University in New York showed that especially women were not good at recognizing the symptoms of stroke. Twenty percent of women could not even name even one sign of a stroke.
1. Sudden tingling, numbness, or weakness of the face, arms, or legs, especially if only on one side of your body;
2. Sudden confusion or trouble speaking, swallowing, or understanding others;
3. Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, or double vision;
4. Sudden difficulty walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination;
5. Sudden severe headache that is different from past headaches, especially if accompanied by vomited, dizziness or altered consciousness.
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