Dear Ask The Doctor: Hello, I am a 34 year old woman with good blood pressure and not on any medications. The last two weeks I have noticed numbness on the left shoulder which seems to have spread to my entire arm and fingers, and my ear, face, and as well as down my leg, to my toes. But only on the left side. The numbness is getting unbearable. Its hard to pick things up over 5lbs with my left arm. When I am sitting or walking my legs and toes go numb. My ear is constantly numb, as well as my left side of face. I have not seen a doctor yet, but was wondering if I should just go to the ER. I have made an appoinment to see my doctor but its not for 6 more days. Im just alittle nervous. Should I go to my ER or wait until the 6 days. Healthy Normal blood pressure as well as cholesterol 158lbs Smoker non drinker
Dear Patient: In the view of the numbness has spread and now you are having decreased muscular strength in your left arm, I strongly recommend that you go to the emergency department and get a clinical, lab and imaging assessment. Even though that you do not have high blood pressure, which is good, you are a smoker, this put you on risk of a vascular disease, and according with your description first thing that has to be ruled out is a ischemic vascular event (Transient Ischemic Attack). Minimizing risk factors is a lifelong endeavor. While we cannot pick our family members and control genetic disposition for heart disease and stroke, we can eliminate some risks like smoking, and minimize others like poorly controlled diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. This prescription takes hard work and effort, but can help prevent narrowing of the arteries and the potential for TIA and stroke. TIAs cannot be ignored since they are warning signs for a potential future stroke. Ten percent of people with TIAs will have a stroke within three months. The purpose of accessing medical care is to help minimize risk factors to help decrease that 10% risk, like quit smoking, for example.