Treating a stroke is crucial, especially the first three hours after a person experiences the first symptoms of a stroke. This is often called the “golden window.” It is the time period that doctors require to minimize or reverse damage, while also restoring blood flow to the brain. It is considered a very minimal window to begin treatment since the brain is sensitive to bleeding or a lack of blood flow.
However, a new national survey from Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center found that younger stroke patients under 45-years-old often underrate the urgency of stroke symptoms. As a result, they tend to delay trips to the hospital for help.
“Timely treatment for stroke is probably more important than for almost any other medical problem there is,” explained Dr. David Liebeskind, professor of neurology and the director of the Neurovascular Imaging Research Core and director of Outpatient Stroke and Neurovascular Programs at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
For the survey, the researchers asked over 1,000 Americans what they’d do in the first three hours of experiencing common stroke symptoms like numbness, weakness, or difficult seeing or speaking. The results found that only about one of three would go to the hospital, and 73% would wait to see if there was symptom improvement.
Researchers noted that this is a problem and that younger people need to learn about stroke symptoms to become aware of the urgency of the issue. In the U.S., it is believed that someone has a stroke every 40 seconds, and there are about 800,000 stroke patients each year. Strokes are the third-leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability among American adults.
A stroke can occur at any age, and risk factors include diabetes, carotid endarterectomy surgery, smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, and high dietary intake of saturated fat.
The longer patients wait to visit the hospital following a stroke, the more devastating the side effects. A transient ischemic attack is a stroke that does not cause a permanent disability. On the other hand, around 85% of stroke sufferers experience an ischemic stroke. It will occur when there is a blockage in the arteries in the brain, which cut off oxygen. When this happens, a person is unable to move one or both limbs, understand or formulate speech, or experience a loss of vision in one or both eyes.
Other noticeable symptoms include face drooping, arm weakness, sudden dizziness, trouble walking, or an unexplained severe headache. It is at this time where the person urgently needs medical attention, and someone should call 9-1-1.
“There simply is not time to wait. It’s a message that we clearly need to get to younger more effectively,” added Liebeskind.
There are also a number of natural lifestyle changes and remedies a person can take when recovering from a stroke. For instance, regular exercise, a healthy diet, and limiting alcohol intake are important methods to lower a risk of a stroke. Some natural supplements that help for stroke recovery include fish oil, garlic, vitamin E, nattokinase, citicoline, glycerophosphocholine, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), green tea, ginkgo biloba, and a high potency multi-vitamin and mineral.
At the same time, it is important to consult with a doctor before taking these supplements for stroke. Although these supplements help in stroke recovery, they will also interfere with blood thinners such as “Coumadin”—a drug commonly prescribed for preventing another stroke.