How to spot a stroke

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DENVER — Strokes are commonly associated with older men, but medical experts are warning that young women need to be aware of the signs as well.

Stroke can occur at any age and knowing the symptoms can save lives and increase the chances of recovery.

Robin Dickinson is a talented family practice physician, mother or two and a stroke survivor at age 32.

STORY: Stroke: Knowing the warning signs in women

Dickinson said the symptoms came on gradually at first.  “I was on my way home from work and I stopped at a store and I ran my cart into shelves over and over again,” she said.

The symptoms quickly worsened.  “(There was) horrible dizziness and spinning,” Dickinson said. “If I reached  for my purse I couldn’t grab it.”

Robin was later diagnosed with a tear in her artery.

Dr.  Sharon Poisson, a  neurologist at the University of Colorado Hospital  says women can face a special risk for strokes regardless of age, especially  those with a history of migraine headaches or high blood pressure.

Pregnancy can also be a factor.

“Women are at a risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy and sometimes that high blood pressure can linger after pregnancy,” Poisson said.

Knowing the signs and getting medical attention right away is crucial.

Poisson said symptoms include a facial droop and  arm weakness in addition to changes in speech.

Doctors say the best thing you can do to guard against stroke is maintain a healthy diet, keep your blood pressure normal, and be aware of your family’s medical history.

For more information you can visit StrokeColorado.org and the University of Colorado Hospital website.