Quick recognition saves lives in stroke

May 11, 2010 2:05:05 PM PDT
Every second counts in treating a stroke. So experts tell Action News the Biden family did the right thing by calling 9-1-1 right away.

And we should all get to know these signs of stroke -

* Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, particularly on one side.

* Sudden confusion, with trouble speaking, or understanding.

* Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.

* Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or a loss of balance, or coordination.

* Sudden headache with no known cause.

Dr. Rodney Bell, co-director of the jefferson stroke center, says speedy recognition of stroke improves the chance of recovery.

"If you are going to be treated by the only drug available - TPA - recombinant tissue plasminogen activator - it has to be given within the first 4 and a half hours," says Dr. Bell.

He says strokes can be caused by clots, or a ruptured blood vessel.

Sometimes, bulging blood vessels called aneurysms can rupture.

Biden's father had 2 ruptured aneurysms within 3 months in 1988, and needed surgery for each. It kept him away from his U.S. Senate seat for 7 months.

To learn more about stroke , go to the American Stroke Association.