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Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death among Americans and leaves more adults disabled than any other health complication. The severity of this life-altering event makes it a leading health concern for the residents of Baltimore and Washington DC. Early treatment is vital to survival and recovery following a stroke, so it is important to quickly recognize the symptoms of a stroke when they present.

How to recognize a stroke

As explained by the Johns Hopkins Stroke Center, the following complications may indicate a stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body. This condition, called Hemiparesis, affects the patient’s ability to the left or right side of the body. As explained by the National Stroke Association, the affected side depends on what area of the brain was injured by the stroke. Injury to the left side can cause hemiparesis on the right side of the body. This part of the brain also controls language and the ability to speak, so a patient’s speech may be extremely slurred. Injury to the right side of the brain can cause weakness to the left side of the body, along with behavior deficits.
  • Confusion or misunderstanding.  Cognitive deficits commonly arise with a stroke. Patients may experience confusion, trouble speaking or difficulty understanding their surroundings. This is partially due to memory loss, which can lead to confusion about when events occurred. A decreased attention span, along with increased distractibility can also contribute to the sudden confusion and inability to communicate effectively.
  • Inability to see or vision changes in one or both eyes. These symptoms are more common in strokes affecting the right side of the brain, where damage can affect the visual pathways of the eyes.  Various vision problems may present, including field of vision loss and eye movement problems that keep the eyes from working together.  When this occurs, vision may appear blurred or doubled. Strokes may also prevent the brain from adequately processing images seen by the eyes. To others, it may appear that you are ignoring objects in front of you, but in actuality, your brain cannot interpret what you are seeing.
  • Trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance. Stroke victims often experience extreme dizziness and a loss of balance. According to the American Stroke Association, If the stroke affects the brainstem, it can injure the vestibular nerve, which connects to the central and peripheral systems of the body. The brain uses these systems to keep the body balanced. When they are injured by stroke, the brain can no longer monitor changes in the position of the head in relation to the pull of gravity, causing a loss of balance or feelings of dizziness.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause. In circumstances where strokes are caused by bleeding within the brain, such as a leaking aneurism, the brain may swell within the skull and cause a headache. This is also a common symptom in patients who have a blood clot within the brain. A headache often develops in the area of the brain where the bleed or clot has developed. While many people suffer from frequent headaches, a stroke inducing headache is sudden and extremely severe. It may feel different from any headache you have encountered in the past. Do not delay in seeking a medical evaluation of these symptoms.

When medical professionals fail stroke patients, obtain representation from a medical malpractice lawyer in Washington D.C. or Maryland

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we urge you to seek medical attention as quickly as possible. It can mean the difference between life and death for you or a loved one. While we hope that every stroke patient will receive excellent medical care, we know that this, unfortunately, is not always the case. If the physician or hospital staff fails to correctly diagnose your symptoms or provide you with timely treatment, contact the Washington DC and Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers of Schochor, Staton, Goldberg, and Cardea, P.A. at 410-234-1000 to discuss your legal remedies.