Watch for Symptoms of Stroke: Numbness, Trouble Speaking, Blurred Vision, Difficulty Walking

Misdiagnosis by a medical professional can dramatically change your life. Take the example of Todd McGee, who was only 34, working at a construction job and leading an active lifestyle. McGee spent his spare time on weekends surfing and swimming on Martha’s Vineyard.
But one day he woke up with a headache. Although he felt ill, McGee went to work. He came home feeling nauseated and chilled, and he assumed he had the flu.
In the middle of the night, he woke with an even more intense headache. His wife took him to the emergency room at a nearby hospital. The ER doctor thought McGee had a muscle tension headache. He treated him with intravenous pain medication, handed him some pain pills and sent him home.
The next day, he had another headache and took more pain pills. Later, he learned he was suffering a transient ischemic attack, also known as a mini-stroke. He was unable to speak and felt numb on one side.
That night, he fell out of bed when he tried to get to the bathroom; one of his arms flapped uncontrollably. McGee returned to the ER, where two doctors ordered a CT scan that suggested either migraine or stroke. The hospital had no M.R.I., which could have revealed the problem: a stroke resulting from a tear in the carotid artery, which feeds the brain. By the time he took an ambulance and ferry to the mainland, it was much too late to administer tPa, a drug that dissolves blood clots. The drug has to be given intravenously within three or four hours of the first symptoms.
In McGee’s case, repeated blows from surfing may have caused his stroke. Other activities that can cause a carotid tear are a jerk of the neck. This can take place in scuba diving, golfing, tennis or bending the head back sharply (known as the beauty parlor stroke). Among young people, the usual causes of strokes are cardiac risk factors: obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Abuse of alcohol and drugs are also contributing factors.
It’s important to recognize the signs of a stroke even if an ER doctor fails to do so. These include:
 numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially to one side of the body.
 confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech.
 blurred vision.
 difficulty walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination.
 sudden, severe headache.
Even if you are young, you could have a stroke. McGee was only 34. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported a steep increase in strokes among people in their 30s and 40s. This may be caused by a rise in risk factors, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea. The CDC also said young people often do not recognize the signs of stroke.
Meanwhile, a study by doctors at the Wayne State University-Detroit Medical Center Stroke Program found that among 57 young stroke victims, one in seven were misdiagnosed and sent home without treatment. Apparently doctors thought they were suffering from vertigo, migraine, alcohol intoxication, seizure, inner ear disorder or other problems.
A story about McGee and stroke among young people appeared in the New York Times.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling medical negligence and misdiagnosis cases for more than 37 years for individuals and families in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Wheaton, West Chicago, Inverness, Des Plaines, Skokie, and Bolingbrook, Illinois.
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