Stroke Awareness Saving Lives - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro, AR -- Heather Flanigan Reports

Stroke Awareness Saving Lives

June 13, 2006 - Posted at 4:29 p.m.

JONESBORO, AR -- Strokes are the third leading cause of death, only behind heart disease and cancer. On the average, someone in the United States suffers a stroke every 45 seconds and every 3.1 minutes someone dies of a stroke. But is it something we can take precautions to prevent?

"When someone has a stroke, they've got the blood supply and the oxygen supply cut off from a certain area of the brain, which causes brain damage," said Healthsouth Stroke Nurse Robyn Stallings.

Willie Williamson's neighbor rushed her to the emergency room when she became disoriented. Doctors aren't sure what caused her stroke. She had low blood pressure, but tested positive for mononucleosis and had a bacterial infection in her bloodstream.

"I don't remember my neighbor coming, I don't remember coming over here and for four weeks, I don't remember a thing that happened," said Williamson.

And it was not even a month ago that Dorothy Farr suffered a stroke that partially paralyzed her.

"I was asleep and I woke up with numbness on my right side where I couldn't walk or speak," said Farr, an African-American.

She is a survivor in more ways then one. Compared to whites, African-American men and women are more likely to die of stroke.

"The first diagnosis was from hypertension, blood pressure and diabetes. I was not aware of my diabetes, but I was taking medication for hypertension and blood pressure. I was taking nothing for diabetes," said Farr.

Both women sought rehabilitation at Healthsouth in Jonesboro...one of only seven stroke centers of excellence in the United States. Physical and speech therapists helped both women meet their goals.

"They don't leave you alone. They come and get you and make you do things, you know. It was wonderful," smiled Williamson.

"The hardest part was me building up my confidence and saying ‘I can do this.' And the therapist completely assured me I can," said Farr.

The American Stroke Association says these are the warning signs of stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

If you or someone with you has one or more of these signs, don't delay! Immediately call 9-1-1. Also, check the time so you'll know when the first symptoms appeared. It's very important to take immediate action. If given within three hours of the start of symptoms, a clot-busting drug can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke.

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