A stroke can be debilitating. Just as a heart attack damages the heart, a cardiovascular blockage that stops blood flow to the brain can cause permanent disability or worse. Stroke is the leading cause of nursing home admissions and the third leading cause of death. But the story doesn’t have to end that way, if you recognize stroke symptoms and act fast to receive medical attention.
Gift of recovery
Southside seamstress Dolores Collier, 69, has been counting her blessings since recovering from a stroke three weeks before Christmas.
While shopping, she slumped to the floor and could not speak, even though she knew everything happening around her.
Collier arrived by ambulance at Western Baptist Hospital within the “golden window” of less than three hours from the time symptoms started for the intravenous tPA – tissue plasminogen activator – a clot-busting medication that reversed her speech and right-side paralysis. She was able to go home – not to rehab or a nursing home – within days, a remarkable recovery she calls a miracle.
Collier is one of several local patients who recovered after a stroke because they sought immediate treatment. To determine if symptoms indicate a stroke, keep F.A.S.T. in mind:
• F=Face Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
• A=Arm Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
• S=Speech Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
• T=Time If you observe any of these signs, phone 9-1-1 because ambulance staff can expedite treatment.
Western Baptist is making great strides in stroke treatment. A partnership with the University of Louisville Health Care includes access to its telemedicine stroke network via a robot and, along with the Purchase District Health Department, a grant to improve community awareness of stroke risk factors, symptoms and treatment.
Risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, family history, high cholesterol, obesity and lack of exercise.
Free stroke awareness seminar
Western Baptist’s stroke specialist Jacqueline Carter, M.D., will speak about stroke at a luncheon seminar Thursday, May 20. Free carotid screenings will be offered. Reservations are required at (270) 575-2895.
Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline
If you have questions about stroke symptoms, you can talk to a Western Baptist nurse free 24 hours a day on the Chest Pain & Stroke Hotline: 1-800-575-1911.
Send your questions!
Do you have a cardiac question tugging at your heart? Send it to email@example.com or mail it to HeartBeat, 2501 Kentucky Ave., Paducah, KY 42003. If we use it in a future HeartBeat column, you will receive a Western Baptist Hospital door prize.