Mimi Murphy's Medical Breakthroughs

Medical Breakthroughs
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It's the number one disabling disease in the U.S. and Canada. It seems to strike without warning. Stroke is feared by many. Victims are often left unable to walk, talk or take care of themselves. But medicine keeps getting better. Ten years ago there wasn't much you could do for a stroke victim. Now you can treat stroke and stop many of its debilitating effects.

She was only 48 when it happened. Haunting memories of the emergency room. She prayed the stroke would not take away her life, or her freedom to do what she loves most, a full gallop.

Jane Askey made a full recovery from what could have been a debilitating stroke. Dr. David Wiebers says stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted. A blood clot can lodge in a vessel and cuts off blood supply or excess blood can flood it.

Yes, stoke can be devastating, but the vast majority of stroke is preventable, it's much more predictable than previously recognized and it's treatable. Treatable if, like Jane, you get to the emergency room immediately. A drug called TPA can stop effects of stroke if you get it within hours. Predictable if you know your risk factors, and preventable if you do something to cut your risk of stroke. Don't smoke. Control your blood pressure and cholesterol. Exercise. But it's not a one size fits all prevention strategy. Dr. Wiebers and his team urge you to talk to a doctor to find out what type of stroke you may be predisposed to. Then, like Jane, you can tailor a plan to prevent stroke. If one does strike, there is help.

Symptoms of stroke vary, but almost always come on fast. They include numbness or weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech, altered vision, imbalance and rapid onset of severe headache. If you have symptoms go to the emergency room.