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How to Survive a Stroke (Even When You’re Alone)

A full recovery, paralysis and even death are often separated by only the slimmest of margins if you experience a stroke. Arming yourself with knowledge, preparation and new technologies can maximize your chances of a full recovery. This is where to start:

Know the 8 Warning Signs of a Stroke

If you experience ANY of the following warning signs, call 911 and get yourself to a hospital.

Sign #1: sudden changes in vision, walking or balance

Sign #2: sudden trouble speaking

Sign #3: sudden dizziness

Sign #4: sudden difficulty understanding language

Sign #5: sudden severe headache, different from past headaches

Sign #6: sudden loss of movement or sensation in a limb

Sign #7: facial drooping, trouble smiling

Sign #8: sudden weakness in a specific body part

Also be sure to remember that although stroke symptoms typically occur suddenly, symptoms can also appear gradually in which case you should also seek immediate medical attention.

Note: symptoms may come and go. Even a temporary symptom should be addressed!

 

Save Your Brain by Getting Treatment Quickly

You may have heard of the “golden hour” following a stroke, during which time it’s critical to get treatment. In reality, this over-simplifies the situation. The reality is, the longer a stroke goes untreated, the greater the potential for brain damage and disability. Today, if you arrive at the emergency room within three hours of a stroke, doctors can administer a potent clot-busting medication and often save critical brain tissue. After three hours, you may no longer be able to get this medication. Some studies have shown stroke victims who receive clot-busting medication within three hours were over 33% more likely than patients given a placebo to recover from their stroke with little or no disability after three months.

Every minute can count, do not delay.

Call 911 Instead of Driving to a Hospital

Calling 911 is almost always the fastest way to get life-saving treatment. Emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment when they arrive at your home — up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. People who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, as there is no waiting time to check in and go through the entire triage process. As mentioned above, clot-busting drugs can stop some strokes in progress, reducing disability and saving your life. But to be effective, these drugs must be given rapidly after a stroke begins, so it is important to call 911 right away.

Do not be embarrassed to go to the hospital or call 911!

Use the Right P.E.R.S.

Having a stroke while alone at home is a scary prospect. But new technology may improve your chances of survival and recovery.  Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS)–also known as medical alert systems–have been around for a while, and in some cases, can be useful in an emergency. However, PERS vary greatly in reliability, cost and features. New PERS technology promises to automatically detect a fall caused by a stroke and automatically call 911, even if you become unconscious and no one is around to call for help. While this can be a highly useful feature, it’s important to note that a PERS should be chosen only after careful research and should only be implemented in the context of a broader personal emergency plan.

 

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About the Author
Rodney Gin, M.D. has been helping patients lead healthier lives as they age for over 20 years. Board Certified in Family Practice and Anti-Aging & Regenerative medicine, Dr. Gin holds an M.D. from USC, a BS from UC Berkeley, and is a member of the American Academy of HomeCare Physicians.
About HomeStay
Almost everone wants to live independently at home for as long as possible, but fewer than 13% are prepared. HomeStay is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation to help people over 50 get ready. To get your free Action Plan for Independent Living call toll-free: 888-278-3699.

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