Stroke Support Group members from left, Bob Stewart, Cindy Stewart, Anthony Shogaolu with facilitator Holly Abrams, R.N.
Stroke: When every second counts
Bob Stewart had settled on the couch with his wife Cindy to excitedly watch the World Series. He began to speak, but his words came out garbled. As a nurse, Cindy immediately knew something was wrong and called 911 for an ambulance.
Enloe Medical Center's stroke team quickly assessed his situation, including ordering a CT scan. Minutes after Bob begrudgingly agreed to stay overnight for additional testing, he suffered an ischemic stroke. Thankfully, the stroke team was there to intervene and provide immediate treatment.
Anthony Shogaolu had finished his shift as a monitor tech at Enloe Medical Center's trauma unit, and joined his wife for their regular walk at a nearby park. Upon returning home, he didn't feel well, his wife saw him suddenly listing to one side, and noticed he had an asymmetrical smile. He said, "I think I'm having a TIA." She said, "I think you're having a stroke." By the time they arrived at the hospital, Anthony could no longer walk.
Stroke vs. TIA
Stroke is known as a silent killer. It is the third leading cause of death among Americans and the No. 1 cause of serious and long-term disability in adults. It usually happens suddenly, without warning.
TIA, or transient ischemic attack, is a "minor or mini stroke" that occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery for a short time. The symptoms are the same as those of a stroke, but they usually last only a few minutes. About 15 percent of major strokes are preceded by TIAs.
Immediate treatment may prevent death and minimize the long-term effects of a stroke, including physical, emotional or cognitive disabilities. In the words of the American Stroke Association: "Time lost is brain lost."
Prevention is the best treatment
Knowing your risk factors for having a stroke is the first step in decreasing your risk. Treatable risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Heart disease
- Overweight or obesity
- Physical inactivity
- Women account for more than 6 in 10 stroke deaths.
- High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for stroke.
- High blood pressure usually has no early warning signs or symptoms, so have it checked regularly.
Rehabilitating from a stroke
Enloe Rehabilitation Center provides multidisciplinary therapy to help patients recover after a stroke. When Bob and Anthony arrived at the center, neither could walk nor complete basic daily living skills. After less than two months of extensive therapy, both were able to walk, and today, live fulfilling lives (though both have residual effects from the stroke). Anthony, who is unable to work after his stroke, volunteers at the Rehabilitation Center to share his experience, compassion and hope with other stroke patients.
A supportive community
Enloe's Stroke Support Group is a helpful resource for patients and their family. Call (530) 332-7258 or visit enloe.org/stroke for information.
Know the Warning Signs
Use B.E. F.A.S.T. to remember warning signs of a stroke, and call 911
immediately if any of these symptoms appear:
BALANCE: Sudden loss of balance or coordination
EYES: Sudden change in vision, sudden trouble seeing
FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the
ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm
SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their
speech slurred or strange?
TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
Quick treatment can save lives, prevent disability
A clot-dissolving drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA)
can stop a stroke in progress and reduce disability from stroke.
It breaks up a blood clot that could stop the flow of blood to the
brain. To receive tPA, you must seek emergency treatment within
3 to 4.5 hours after symptoms start.