What you should know
Why use the term brain attack?
The term brain attack is credited to Vladimir C. Hachinski, M.D., and John Norris, M.D., both world-renowned neurologists from Canada. The term brain attack characterizes the medical condition and communicates the actual event more clearly than does the word “stroke.” The brain is the most delicate organ in the body. “To give the best chance of limiting damage, brain attacks should be heeded even more urgently than heart attacks,” said Dr. Hachinski.
The symptoms of stroke should have the same alarming significance in identifying a brain attack that acute chest pain has in identifying a heart attack. But unlike a heart attack, stroke patients may experience no pain at all or a headache with their stroke symptoms. What is most important is to remember that emergency evaluation is critical! Even if the symptoms resolve, they may come back at some point in the future, so seek medical care immediately when stroke symptoms occur.
The misperception that nothing can be done about stroke has prevailed for too long. With the use of the term brain attack, we give stroke a definitive name and a unique face for the first time. Of all the images we use to identify stroke, brain attack is the most descriptive, realistic and powerful call to action. The appropriate response to a brain attack is emergency action, both by the person it strikes and the medical community.
Brain attack means medical emergency
The only currently FDA approved treatment for acute stroke MUST BE GIVEN within 3 HOURS of the start of symptoms! Educating the public to treat stroke as a brain attack and to seek emergency treatment is crucial because every minute lost, from the onset of symptoms to the time of emergency contact, cuts into the limited window of opportunity for intervention. The majority of patients don't report to the emergency room until more than 24 hours after the onset of stroke symptoms, which makes them ineligible for "brain-saving" treatment. The longer the delay in patient presentation, the more damage a stroke can do and the less recovery can be achieved.
One of the biggest obstacles to emergency treatment is that many people don't even know when they are having a stroke. Studies have reported that 52 percent of acute stroke patients were unaware they were experiencing a stroke. Another factor in time of presentation is where people are when they have strokes. Those who have a brain attack in a public place where others may recognize the symptoms or see that something is wrong tend to report to the emergency room sooner. That is why it is critical for everyone to "Be Stroke Smart" and learn the 3 Rs of stroke:
- Reduce risk
- Recognize symptoms
- Respond by calling 911