Preventing Stroke Damage

February 8, 2007 -- Posted at 6:54 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR -- Every 45 seconds someone has a stroke.  What many don't realize is that the damage from a stroke can often be minimized if you get help immediately.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and the first leading cause of death in Arkansas.

New treatments are available that can reduce the damage caused by a stroke for some victims.  These treatments need to be given soon after the symptoms start.

Dr. Thomas Mulligan treats patients who have suffered strokes and says there are many warning signs to watch for.

"If suddenly I notice that I can't move my hand that would be an indication that I had a stroke," said Mulligan.

700 thousand people die every year from stroke.  Linda Howard suffered a stroke almost six years ago, and says getting help saved her life.

"I was paralyzed for three weeks completely on my left side.  I went to Healthsouth and was rehabilitated," said Howard.

Every year, thousands of people will suffer a stroke.  Of those thousands, only a few will actually receive immediate help.

"If they have treatment within the first 60 minutes then their mortality is a whole lot better," said Vonda Curtis.

"We like to think of heart attacks as things you have to address immediately.  A better word for stroke is a 'brain attack' because you need to address it immediately," said Mulligan.

Most stroke victims are age 65 or older, but in some cases a stroke can happen even younger.

"I was only 46 when I had mine," said Howard.

Some precursors for stroke can be high blood pressure, a history of heart disease, and smoking.

African Americans are twice as likely to suffer a stroke as anyone else, but early detection can be the difference in life and death.

If you think you or anyone you love may be suffering a stroke remember the first three letters of the word "stroke": S-T-R, which stands for smile, talk, and raise your arms.

If the person can't do one of these three things, call 911 immediately.