Those Bothersome Symptoms Could Signal a Stroke
If you feel a sudden transient numbness or become unusually inarticulate, pay attention. Such symptoms may signal a strokeor the increased risk of a strokein many more people than previously thought.
According to research published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, nearly 18 percent of Americans who have never been diagnosed with stroke have temporarily experienced one or more of the red flags, including sudden lack of feeling on one side of the body, sudden loss of vision, or sudden inability to express themselves. "These symptoms can be considered warning signs," says Virginia Howard, epidemiologist and lead researcher at the University of AlabamaBirmingham.
Howard's team analyzed data from 18,462 volunteers representative of the U.S. population who were surveyed for stroke symptoms, had no stroke history, and had undergone physical exams to assess stroke risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes, smoking, and heart disease. The results showed a strong correlation between symptoms and risk: Those with the greatest overall risk for stroke were up to 1.8 times as likely to have experienced the symptoms. African-Americans were more likely than white participants to report the symptoms, as were those with a lower income and a lower education level.
The good newsand an old storyis that most of those underlying risk factors can be changed.