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Bridget McSweegen is back doing what she loves, after a devastating stroke nearly took her life. Bridget had a headache and didn’t know what was happening to her. Her husband knew it was stroke and quickly called 911. The ambulance took her to Hartford Hospital, a level one trauma and comprehensive stroke center equipped to provide the most critical, life-saving care. Three days later Bridget pulled through…but she wasn’t out of the woods just yet. Neurologist, Dr. Amre Nouh worked alongside the thoracic team at the Heart and Vascular Institute where surgeons performed an advanced heart procedure to reduce the risk of another stroke. The surgery was a success…today, Bridget is back to enjoying her love of painting.

Know the signs of a stroke

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, and a leading cause of adult disability, yet too many people don’t know the signs or symptoms of stroke.

“Signs and symptoms of a stroke depend on what part of the brain is affected,” says Dr. Amre Nouh, director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Hartford Hospital.

As one of 101 hospitals in the nation that qualifies as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, Hartford HealthCare must have neurosurgeons on duty every day, all day. Some of the common symptoms our experts look for are sudden weakness, numbness, speech difficulty, visual loss or a severe headache.

It’s easy for you to remember what to look for, too. Think FAST.

FAST is an easy way to remember and identify the most common symptoms of a stroke. Time is brain — as the stroke progresses, more nervous tissue is lost -- so the longer you wait to call 911, the more damage to the brain.

Stroke under the age of 45?

Strokes for people under the age of 45 are rare, but they can happen. Would you know the signs? Watch this story about a 19 year old stroke survivor.

Comprehensive stroke care

Dr. Mark Alberts, Hartford HealthCare Neuroscience Institute, talks about the signs and symptoms of stroke, and how the Stroke Center at Hartford Hospital provides a state-of-the-art stroke team and facility to treat stroke promptly and effectively.

Other indicators of a possible stroke

• Severe headache

• Confusion

• Trouble walking

• Dizziness

• Loss of balance

• Lack of coordination

Transient Ischemic Attack

If symptoms disappear within minutes, you should still report symptoms to a health professional immediately. It’s possible you’ve had a transient ischemic attack, or TIA, that requires medical attention. A TIA is a sign of a serious condition, even the symptoms did not last long. Do not ignore them.

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