According to the Internet Stroke Center each year, 15 million strokes occur around the world, with almost 800,000 in the United States. This makes it a leading cause of morbidity and mortality and also a massive contributor to national healthcare costs. While relatively frequent, stroke diagnosis and management can be difficult. In addition, identifying a person at risk and intervening early enough to reduce that risk can be a real challenge. Failures in diagnosis or management can seriously impact patients for many years.

Diagnosis May Be Difficult – Early Warning Signs Stroke

Strokes occur when there is an interruption of the blood supply to the brain, and this can happen in many ways. This can make the diagnosis challenging, especially during the early stages. Early diagnosis allows for early interventions, which translates to less brain damage. Strokes also vary in severity, ranging from relatively minor to rapidly fatal. Recognizing severity can help allocate resources appropriately.

A Wide Spectrum of Patients May Be Affected

One fascinating aspect of stroke care is the range of conditions that may be associated with strokes. While many patients have known risk factors for cardiovascular disease, some unexpected people may have strokes including patients with:

  • atrial fibrillation
  • endocarditis
  • pregnancy
  • neonatal complications
  • head trauma
  • substance abuse
  • vasculitis
  • carotid stenosis or thrombosis
  • arterial dissection


An Unpleasant Surprise After Surgery

An important type of stroke from a medicolegal aspect is perioperative stroke. An older person with risk factors for cardiovascular risk would be expected to be at risk. However, almost any kind of surgery has some risk of stroke, often causing a complication that is unexpected.

Stroke May Lead to Serious Complications

A person who has a significant stroke is at risk for many complications. Some are physical while others are psychological, including marked personality change. Advances are being made so that stroke patients can be treated up to 24 hours after onset of symptoms with devices and medications that can reduce blood clots and in turn can reduce paralysis, speech difficulties, and other stroke disabilities.  Coupled with devices, and medication, medical analytics can also aid clinicians in evaluating risk of complications after a stroke. 


Stroke May Entail a Complex Rehabilitation

Once a person has started to recover there is usually a need for rehabilitation. This may take years and a slow recovery can be a painful experience for the family and loved ones.

Recognizing and Reducing Stroke Risk

Considering the impact of a stroke, prevention becomes an important task. Quite a few adults have atrial fibrillation and take oral anticoagulation to reduce the risk of stroke. While usually effective it is also a burden for the elderly and source of serious bleeding. Diabetics and patients with transient ischemic attacks (TIA) are at increased risk for stroke but prevention can be difficult.

Take-Home Messages – Early Warning Signs Stroke

Stroke is an important healthcare problem around the world. Because of its potential complexity ready access to specialists is desirable but not feasible for many reasons. Telemedicine can help reach underserved areas, while medical algorithms can enable non-specialists to handle urgent problems.